Football: Malaysia FA says fixers 'destroying' sport

KUALA LUMPUR, June 16, 2011 (AFP) - A top Malaysian football official warned Thursday that match-fixers were "destroying" the sport in the Southeast Asian country which is battling a widening match-fixing scandal.

Azzuddin Ahmad, general secretary of the Football Association of Malaysia, urged the police and the anti-graft body to take action.

"We urge the police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to investigate and nail anyone involved in match-fixing.

"They are destroying our football," he said.

Azzuddin also called on individuals involved in corruption to surrender.

"For those who are involved in match-fixing, it is better that you own up before it is too late," he said when asked if more people could be arrested for graft.

Malaysia's national side, which had fallen a long way since the heady days of the 1970s and 1980s when they reached two Olympic Games, made a modest recovery after being crowned ASEAN champions last December.

In the latest incident to tarnish the sport, the MACC detained a Selangor state soccer coach Wednesday over match-fixing during the President's Cup youth tournament for under-20s. He was not identified.

Earlier on Wednesday, authorities charged Singaporean R.K. Rajendran, a bookie, with match-fixing in connection with the same tournament.

Another football coach from Negeri Sembilan state, Yusarman Yusof, was charged with match-fixing early this month.

He pleaded not guilty to giving 24,900 ringgit ($8,200) as bribes to 11 players between April 19 and 22.

Azzuddin said he hoped the sport would not see a repeat of an infamous 1994 case when more than 100 players including national footballers were suspended and banned for match-fixing.

"Hopefully it will not be a repeat of the 1994 ugly episode," he said.

"I feel very sad and disappointed that after all our efforts to improve our football, corruption has crept into the sport," Azzuddin added.

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