VietNamNet Bridge – The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has expressed its interest in the match-fixing case of the game between Vietnam’s Ninh Binh FC and Malaysian Kelantan FC, and its support for the Vietnam Football Federation’s (VFF) combat against wrongdoing.


In a press release dated April 11, the AFC expressed its concern about the match-fixing scandal, which involves many Ninh Binh FC players.The AFC reaffirmed its determination to struggle with negative intransigence and its strong support for the VFF in this effort. It confirmed that it will wait for notification from the VFF and investigative agencies in Vietnam before deciding on the next step. The AFC also stated to punish the teams that give up the AFC Cup halfway under the provisions of the 2014 Charter of the AFC Cup.

However, Ninh Binh will likely continue to play in the AFC Cup this year because the last match in Group G against United Yangon (Myanmar) is not an important one, and because both teams have entered the next round and Ninh Binh will almost certainly top the group.

Ninh Binh registered 30 players for the AFC Cup. If it eliminates the 11 players under investigation, the team still has 19 players who can attend the match against Yangon United. The only problem is that, of the 19 players, there is only one goalkeeper. However, the AFC's charter also allows for an additional keeper in special cases such as this.

On Saturday, VFF Vice Chair Tran Quoc Tuan went to Malaysia to directly report to the President of the AFC, Mr. Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, about the incident, as the team has won a spot to take part in the knock-out round of the AFC Cup.

Kelantan FC is also very interested in this scandal. Mr. Azman Ibrahim, an official of the team, told The Star that he hopes that his team was not involved in the match-fixing allegations. “We're not sure about what will happen next because we are waiting for the conclusions of the investigating agency. We will focus on winning the last game," he said.

The VFF and the Vietnam Professional Football Joint Stock Company (VPF) on Friday decided to temporarily suspend the V-League match between Ninh Binh and Hoang Anh Gia Lai, scheduled for Saturday, because of the investigation.

In an official document sent to the two organizations, Ninh Binh FC sought permission to pull out of this running season and said this was in order to investigate the allegations against their footballers.

It is the first time a V-League match was delayed.

Earlier, Pham Van Le, chairman of the club, confirmed the problem and said: "We suspect that our players are involved in match-fixing. Over the past few months, we have received information related to the team's performance in both Asia's second tier Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup and the V-League. The team's boss, Hoang Manh Truong, got furious and decided to stop all activities of the team to investigate the matter. We have asked the police to help clear up this matter."

The suspect matches are Ninh Binh's 1-3 loss to Quang Ninh and 2-5 defeat to Binh Duong in the V-League, and its 3-2 win against Malaysia's Kelatan in the AFC event.

The team has had three wins and one draw at the AFC Cup, for a berth in the second round.

In the V-League, Ninh Binh ranks 11th out of 13 teams and has seven points after eight matches.

According to Pham Ngoc Vien, VPF's general director, this is unprecedented in Vietnam's football history. It means the team will stop playing in football events.

VFF vice chairman Tran Quoc Tuan, added that Ninh Binh will be subject to strict fines and that the prestige of Viet Nam will be diminished. Leaving the league, the team will be relegated to the lowest level of the third division, while their results from this year will be expunged. The team will also be slapped with a VND100 million ($US4,700) fine.

On Friday, police began interrogating some of the footballers believed to be involved.

"I was in a state of shock after hearing that my teammates had fixed matches. I don't understand why they did this. I want fans to know that foreign players are implicated in this issue. I still want to play football in Vietnam," said striker Patiyo Tambwe.

According to a source, the players involved have admitted to receiving a total of VND800 million ($38,000) to fix the match against Kelantan.

Nam Nguyen