Two former Happy Valley players and a former team official were charged by the ICAC yesterday over match-fixing allegations.
The development came as the Happy Valley Athletic Association chairman Pui Kwan-kay criticised the decision by the Hong Kong Football Association to suspend the club, insisting it had never been involved in match-fixing.
Fan Weijun, 35, a former assistant coach and player from the mainland, and Sasa Mus, 27, a former player from Croatia, each face one count of conspiracy to defraud.
Hinson Leung, 26, a former deputy team manager, faces one count of betting with a bookmaker, contrary to Section 8 of the Gambling Ordinance. He is alleged to have placed bets on the First Division match between Happy Valley and Sun Hei on January 5 this year through a bookmaking website. Happy Valley lost the match 5-0.
Fan is alleged to have conspired to defraud the club and the HKFA by dishonestly not playing to his best abilities in the Senior Shield match against Sun Pegasus on December 8 last year, when Happy Valley lost 1-0.
Mus is alleged to have conspired with Leung and others to defraud the club and the HKFA by dishonestly not playing to his best abilities in a First Division match against Royal Southern on November 30 last year. Happy Valley lost 4-2.
The club was suspended from the league in February after an HKFA investigation found it had brought the game into disrepute, but Pui criticised the decision.
"It is clear the club has never been involved in match-fixing and should not be suspended," said Pui. "We want an explanation from the HKFA for suspending the club."
The Independent Commission Against Corruption said that both Happy Valley and the HKFA had given full assistance to its investigation.
All three have been released on bail, pending their appearance in Eastern Court tomorrow.
Leung and six Happy Valley players were initially arrested in January on suspicion of match-fixing. They were questioned for nearly 48 hours before being released on bail.
HKFA director Ken Ng Kin promised tighter measures against match-fixing when the new Premier League launches next season. "We are planning to employ a sports betting monitoring company to check any irregular betting on soccer clubs and pass information to relevant authorities," said Ng.
Ng said the cost for hiring the company would be about HK$300,000 per season. The association still needed to identify resources for the project, he said.