12 alleged soccer match fixers identified

The national police chief, Pol Gen Chaktip Chaijinda, unveiled the identities of 12 individuals held in police custody on charges of soccer match fixing.

The 12 suspects are Mr Sutthipong Laoporn, Mr Narong Wongthongkham, Mr Suwittaya Namsinlark, Mr Seksan Chaothonglang, all of them professional footballers of Royal Thai Navy FC; Mr Veera Kerdputsa, goalkeeper of Nakhon Ratchasima Mazda FC, referee Phumirin Kamruen, lineman Thirachit Sitthisuk, Si Sa Ket FC club director Mr Cherdsak Boonchu and four financiers or their representatives namely Mr Walllop Samarn, Mr Kittipoom Paphu-nga, Mr Manit or Setthapasit Komonwattana and Mr Parkpoom Pannik.

The arrest of the 12 suspects followed a yearlong investigation by the police in cooperation with the Football Association Thailand, led by its president Pol Gen Somyot Poompunmuang.

Speaking at a press conference held at the FAT head office Tuesday afternoon, Pol Gen Somyot said that allegations of soccer match fixing had been around for decades, but there had not been a formal investigation to verify the allegations until his appointment as the FAT president.

He told the media that he wanted to find out the truth and brought the matter to the attention of Pol Gen Chaktip, resulting to a formal probe.

Noting that the matter is sensitive, he said that he didn’t want to take any action without first obtaining sufficient evidence to nail the match fixers and those involved in the illegal practice.

The FAT president said, previously, match fixing was not serious, but, of late, it has become more serious and rampant when football has developed into a profession with dozens of professional football clubs.

Match fixing tricks range from requests to coercion, intimidation or offers of rewards in the forms of cash or other benefits by the match fixers to clubs, footballers, referees or linemen, said Gen Somyot, adding that soccer match fixing has turned more serious with the advent of internet gambling.

Likening soccer match fixing to cancer, he said that to cure the cancer, the patient had to be operated on and he had to suffer pains. He added that he could not afford to allow football profession in Thailand to collapse because of match fixing as it was the case in a neighbouring country.


Pol Gen Chaktip Chaijinda

Pol Gen Chaktip further said that some football players were unaware that they were already “sold” by their club in complicit with the match fixers. Mafia figures were mostly found in big soccer clubs with the collusion of mid-sized clubs.

Hailing the match fixing case as historic, the national police chief insisted that he had no ill intention to hurt anyone in particular but merely wanted to clean up the profession soccer circle so the profession would prosper.

How the case will end up will depend on the court to decide, he added.