Half team of Local Football Club Happy Valley arrested over match-fixing
【譯文】The Hong Kong Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) launched an operation code-named "Emerald Green" on May 15 after a year of in-depth investigation to uncover the largest corruption syndicate in Hong Kong's football industry for illegal gambling "match-fixing". The ICAC deployed nearly 100 officers to arrest 23 people, including the coach and 11 local veteran football team Happy Valley players. The investigation found that the illegal gambling syndicate offered bribes to the players and coaches involved to "play match-fixing" in the 2022/2023 Hong Kong First Division League. The players were instructed to "play below their capabilities" and "goof around" to match the predetermined results and were paid up to $10,000 per game, while the players also placed heavy bets on the cold bets and high odds games of the illegal games to make huge profits. The ICAC said the case is still under investigation, and further arrests might be made.
The 22 men and one woman arrested range in age from 25 to 36 and are said to include Happy Valley head coach Chiu Kok Chiu, while the 11 players arrested make up half of the team. The rest of those arrested include the head of the bookmaking syndicate, the backbone and the "boatman" responsible for taking bets. It is reported that the criminal group does not have a triad background.
The ICAC's Chief Investigation Officer, Ms Kate Cheuk, said that the ICAC received a corruption complaint involving a player a year ago. During the investigation, it was discovered that nearly half of the players of the team to which the player belonged were engaged in collective "soccer match-fixing" and immediately started an in-depth investigation and intelligence gathering and paid close attention to the performance of the team involved.
The ICAC found that the team had lost 13 matches and drawn five matches out of the 26 games played, and there were suspected abnormal mistakes in many of the matches. It is believed that some of the players "played below their capabilities" or "goofed around", losing to the weaker team with abnormal performance to achieve a specific predetermined result.
ICAC Chief Investigator Allen Leung said that the players and coaches involved in the "match-fixing" were paid by the "match-fixing" corruption syndicate. Before the match, the players would contact the coaches. As long as they cooperated to achieve the predetermined outcome, each player who participated in the "match-fixing" would be rewarded with $9,000 to $10,000 based on their performance. The players would win huge payouts by placing outside bets on predetermined cold outcomes while "match-fixing", thus making double profits.
As the odds on the outside bets change as the game progresses, the syndicate sends "intermediaries" in to watch the game and communicate with the coaches and players to change tactics, including making exaggerated body movements, such as pulling up or down socks, or putting on and taking off hats, to instruct the players to handle the game and manipulate the odds.◆ 琬琰