A final attempt by three Hong Kong international footballers to have convictions relating to the throwing of a World Cup qualifying match overturned was kicked out by judges of the top court yesterday. The ruling means Kevin Lok Kar-win, 25, and Chan Chi-keung, 29, must continue to serve their 15-month prison terms and will not be released until early next year. Wai Kwan-lung, 23, was released recently after completing his 12-month sentence. They had applied to three judges of the Court of Final Appeal for permission to pursue an appeal before the top court. Their bid was rejected. The players had been convicted of laundering the proceeds of a betting scam in which they had plotted to ensure the Hong Kong national team lost a World Cup qualifying match in Thailand 2-0. Lawrence Lok, SC, for the footballers, argued that the money-laundering charge was only intended to apply to people who dealt with the proceeds of someone else's crime. It should not cover the footballers because they were handling profits of their own criminal conduct, he argued. Mr Lok also submitted it was necessary for the prosecution to prove that the betting was illegal in Thailand, where it was committed. Otherwise, he said, it would mean that people who made money lawfully in another country and then brought it to Hong Kong could be prosecuted. 'If someone goes to Shenzhen and sets up a factory making money from fireworks and brings the money into Hong Kong, it is not an offence in China, but in Hong Kong it is indictable. Should he be guilty of an offence?' asked Mr Lok. Andrew Bruce, SC, for the Government, said the law was quite clear and there was no need for it to be considered by the Court of Final Appeal. If a person who committed a crime was not covered by the money-laundering laws it would mean a 'drug trafficker extraordinaire' from Columbia could not be touched if he brought his ill-gotten gains to the SAR, he argued. Mr Justice Henry Litton, sitting with Mr Justice Charles Ching and Mr Justice Gerald Nazareth, dismissed the application. A fourth footballer, Lee Wai-man, 25, is still facing trial on the same charge. He is due to appear at Eastern Court on Monday for a preliminary hearing.