Corruption commission arrests five players from Hong Kong Premier League club Pegasus over suspected match-fixing
Local soccer community hit by scandal after graft body’s swoop involving alleged match-fixing of top-flight clash against R&F last week as well as reserve league games
The local soccer community was shocked on Wednesday after reports that three players and two officials from Premier League side Hong Kong Pegasus had been arrested by the ICAC over match-fixing allegations.
Among the five are current and former players and coaches, according to a long-serving soccer administrator not connected to the club.
The Independent Commission Against Corruption declined to comment.
Pegasus are managed by former Queens Park Rangers first team coach Steve Gallen and have been considered serious title challengers, but the team was surprisingly defeated by R&F 2-1 in the Hong Kong Premier League last week.
R&F feature mainly development players from their Guangzhou parent club, which play in the Chinese Super League. And it was said the match result was queried by the authorities.
Pegasus are fourth in the Premier League table with five points from four games and are scheduled to train on Thursday at 9.30am in Tsing Yi.
The administrator said the match result was queried by the ICAC, though he added that inquiries began in the Reserve Division League last season.
“A number of Pegasus match results in the reserve league were suspicious, which had alerted the Hong Kong Football Association,” he said.
“If it only involved the match against R&F, it would be difficult to gather all the required evidence in such a short period of time, so that they can arrest the people involved.”
In two of the reserve league games last season, Pegasus defeated Yuen Long 10-1, but also lost to BC Rangers 6-2.
Pegasus chairman Canny Leung Chi-shan, who is also an HKFA director, was in London on a business trip yesterday.
She posted a message on Facebook in Chinese on Wednesday night, saying that “[This] all came out of the blue and I am not clear about the details. I will come back to Hong Kong to handle the incident as soon as possible”.
Other club officials preferred not to make any comment.
Football Association chief executive Mark Sutcliffe said the HKFA was aware of the case and would respond after the ICAC issued a statement.
Hong Kong soccer has been hit by a number of match-fixing scandal in recent years.
In January 2014, six Happy Valley players were arrested by the ICAC for match fixing and the club was suspended for the rest of the season by the HKFA. Only one player was convicted in that case.
Croatian soccer player Sasa Mus, now 30, was convicted of fixing a local division one match and was jailed for 12 months after his conviction in Eastern Court in December 2014.
Mus was found guilty of teaming up with his side’s sponsor, Michael Liao Siwei, and deputy manager Hinson Leung to fix the game with Royal Southern on November 30, 2013.
In October 2014, Leung pleaded guilty in Eastern Court to one charge of betting illegally on another game played by his team. He was fined HK$4,000.
Mainland player and the team’s former assistant coach, Fan Weijun, 35, was cleared of incitement to commit conspiracy on September 24, after a judge ruled he could not accept the testimony of a key witness, a former goalkeeper, on a phone conversation.
In 2009, the Football Association called an independent investigation into match-fixing allegations involving First Division team Tuen Mun Progoal after one of their players accused his mainland teammates of deliberately throwing a game against Happy Valley.
A year later, Happy Valley player Yu Yang was jailed for 10 months after he was found guilty of trying to fix a First Division match and Iu Wai of Rangers was also found guilty of trying to bribe his teammates on the Hong Kong under-21 team to throw their match against Russia and was sentenced to 12 months in a detention centre for young offenders.