KUALA LUMPUR • Match-fixing is "shackling" Malaysia's attempts to advance as a footballing nation despite efforts to fight the problem, the country's youth and sports minister told parliament yesterday.
Khairy Jamaluddin was speaking ahead of Malaysia's World Cup qualifier against the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at the Shah Alam Stadium, where the Tigers were defeated 1-2.
"Match-fixing has been shackling national football since several years ago," Khairy was quoted as saying by the official Bernama news agency. "But continuous effort is being carried out by the Football Association of Malaysia (FAM), the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and the Royal Malaysian Police with the ministry to combat the scourge."
A 1994 scandal saw 21 players and coaches sacked and 58 players suspended but new cases continue to surface.
In 2012, the FAM suspended 18 youth players and banned a coach for life for match-fixing.
That same year, the northern Perlis club placed nine players under investigation for corruption and suspended one player.
Former Asian Football Confederation general secretary Peter Velappan noted that match-fixing syndicates were "well entrenched" across Asia and were destroying the game.
"We need to impose punitive measures on those convicted," he said. "Long-term prison sentences should be imposed. I would like to see them hanged also."
Malaysia's national side have plummeted to 171 in Fifa's world rankings out of 209.
In September, they were thrashed 0-10 by the UAE during a World Cup qualifying match, the worst defeat ever for the national team. Malaysia are out of the running to qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.