Malaysia should legalise football betting to stamp out match-fixing, a top coach said Sunday after police launched a graft probe into five of the 13 teams in the Malaysian Super League.
Steve Darby, chief coach of former Malaysian Cup champions Perak state, told AFP profits from betting could be used to improve the game here.
“We cannot stop betting,” he said.
“Legalised betting will help (prevent match-fixing). The money can be ploughed back to provide better training facilities for the players,” Darby said.
Darby added he had written to the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) three times to warn about possible match-fixing in the league after his players were approached.
Betting on football, a popular sport here, is illegal but neighbouring Singapore has legalised it.
Darby, from Liverpool, England made the remarks as police and the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) arrested seven current players from Sarawak state team and one former teammate since Thursday as part of investigations.
Seven of them were later freed. However, the 39-year-old former Sarawak player from eastern Borneo island has been remanded for four days from Friday to assist the probe by the ACA.
Sarawak are bottom of the league and face relegation to the Premier League at the end of the season.
Darby said it was difficult to estimate how widespread match-fixing was in Malaysian football.
“Obviously, it is happening. But I do not know how widespread it is,” he said, adding that it could be caused by “greed or due to someone not being able to feed his kids.”
The scandal is the latest blow to Malaysian football, which has struggled to recover from a 1994 investigation that saw 126 players questioned.
In that debacle, 21 players and coaches were sacked, while 58 players were suspended by FAM for corruption.
Asian Football Confederation chief Mohamed bin Hammam recently described match-fixing a “cancer” that is destroying the game in Asia.
Bin Hammam made the comments following allegations that two players of Maldives side Victory SC were approached on April 1 to throw their AFC Cup match against Singapore’s Home United.
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