Malaysian hockey team cleared of match-fixing
Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia`s national hockey team has been cleared of match-fixing following their poor performance in the recent Sultan Azlan Shah Cup, a top official said on Tuesday.
"There were rumours during the tournament (about match-fixing). It was discussed during our June 8 management meeting. We found there was no truth to it," Maninderjit Singh, secretary of the Malaysian Hockey Federation told reporters.
"We believe there must be evidence. The police were called in to check the allegations during the tournament...there is nothing to substantiate the corruption claims," he said.
"The team is clean," he said, adding that the side can now focus on its Olympic qualifiers.
The annual Sultan Azlan Shah Cup sees the world`s top national teams compete for the trophy, won this year by Australia.
Maninderjit made the remarks after a report in the New Straits Times newspaper on Tuesday alleged that at least four Malaysian players fixed matches to settle gambling debts.
The report alleged that the players had placed heavy bets English Premier League (EPL) matches which are watched extensively in the football-mad country.
"The players are apparently heavy punters of EPL matches and after losing as much as 30,000 ringgit ($9,900) each, have allegedly fixed Malaysian international matches and made killings on them by betting," the report said.
The Malaysian team dominated play in two matches -- against Australia and New Zealand -- but lost both in the last five minutes.
The English-language daily cited a source as saying match-fixing has reached "disturbing levels" as Malaysian players fix matches to pay off debts.
"An even more alarming situation could be that these players are forced to play below par by the syndicates to whom they owe money to," the newspaper said.
Maninderjit said the fixing allegations had "damaged" the reputation of the team.
"For sure it has damaged the team," he said. "The allegations is only speculative because the team did not do well."
Malaysia suffered four straight defeats, losing 3-1 to Britain, 2-1 to Australia, 5-2 to India and 3-2 to New Zealand, meaning the one-time Asian giants finished last.