Sapling saddened by life ban for youngster Iu

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 March, 2012, 12:00am

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First Division side Sapling have decided not to lodge an appeal against the life ban imposed on midfielder Iu Wai by the Hong Kong Football Association, although they continue to insist the punishment was harsh for a player so young.

Iu, 20, was found guilty of trying to bribe his teammates on the Hong Kong under-21 team to throw their match against Russia last November and was sentenced to 12 months in a detention centre for young offenders.

'We don't think it will change anything even if we appeal,' Sapling manager Philip Lee Fai-lap said. 'The association is unlikely to reverse its decision.

'But we are very disappointed the association did not consider giving Iu a second chance. We know what he did was wrong, but a life ban is too much. He did not actually pay his teammates any money. He only said he would but no money changed hands. He is still young and is easily influenced by other people. The association's decision means he can never go back to the sport he loves. It's very sad.'

Iu (pictured) did not play any part in the match against Russia, which Hong Kong lost 2-1.

Iu admitted in court that he approached teammate Chan Cham-hei, a defender, and Chiu Yu-ming, a goalkeeper, to throw the match in return for several tens of thousands of dollars. The two turned down his requests and reported the matter to the ICAC.

Lee expects Iu to be released from the detention centre in June on good behaviour. Lee said he would help Iu start a new life outside of soccer. 'We have lined up a number of options for him and it is up to him to decide what career path to choose.'

In 2010, Yu Yang, a former Happy Valley player, was found guilty of trying to fix a First Division match and was jailed for 10 months. The HKFA also imposed a life ban on Yu.