Ref switched over suspicion of fixing Lions XII vs Sarawak game
KUALA LUMPUR, May 24 — The referee for Tuesday’s Lions XII vs Sarawak Malaysian Super League (MSL) game in Singapore was switched at the eleventh hour after officials received word that he might fix the game.
Singapore’s Straits Times reported today the referee who was replaced has been called up by the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau to assist in investigations.
“Three others have also been called in for questioning, although their identities remain unknown. It is understood that none of them are players,” the newspaper reported.
Sarawak coach Robert Alberts, whose team lost to the Singaporean youth squad 3-0, was one of several officials who were taken aback by the unusual move of changing a match official shortly before kick-off.
“We were given one name at the team managers’ meeting (at 1pm on Tuesday) but at the game, it was a different referee. That really came as a surprise to me,” the Dutchman told the Straits Times yesterday.
Match-fixing has plagued Malaysian football for decades. In February, it was reported that six MSL matches — including two involving the Lions XII — were being probed by the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) and world football governing body FIFA for suspected fixing.
That same month, 18 youth players were handed suspensions ranging from two to five years for their roles in fixing matches at last year’s President’s Cup.