Maldives warned for ticket fraud ahead of Azkals game

Agence France-Presse

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Maldives warned for ticket fraud ahead of Azkals game
The AFC has warned the Maldives risks suspension from international competition stemming from alleged ticket fraud linked to the Challenge Cup

COLOMBO – Asia’s football body has warned that the Maldives risks being suspended from international competition after anti-corruption investigators launched a probe into alleged ticket fraud at the AFC Challenge Cup.

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said the Maldives’ anti-corruption commission did not have the authority to investigate. Brawls broke out on Sunday when disgruntled fans were unable to buy tickets.

“Since the jurisdiction to investigate any misconduct remains exclusively with the AFC and FIFA, if any domestic investigative authority attempts to intervene in the affairs of AFC or in any tournament conducted by AFC in partnership with FAM, the Republic of Maldives, as a member of AFC and FIFA is at risk of being penalized for such intervention, including suspension from international events and tournaments,” the AFC said in a statement.

The statement added that the Football Association of Maldives (FAM) is regularly audited by the AFC “and remains in good standing”.

“AFC also believes that (the) conduct of FAM in the current tournament is transparent, and in accordance with the established rules of the AFC,” it said.

There was no immediate comment from the independent Anti-Corruption Commission of the Maldives.

Scuffles broke out in the capital Male when tickets for Tuesday’s semi-finals went on sale but fell short of demand. Disappointed fans accused officials of selling them on the black market for a higher price.

In Tuesday’s semifinals, Maldives play the Philippines and Afghanistan will face Palestine. The eventual champions earn a place at next year’s Asian Cup.

FAM president Ilham Ahmed told local media on Sunday that about 50,000 people had wanted tickets, but that the national stadium could accommodate only 8,000.

Meanwhile, the privately-run Minivan news said only 150 tickets were made available to the public on Sunday.

Maldivian police said they were following the fraud allegations, but had not received a formal complaint.

“We know of this (allegation) and we are keeping an eye on this,” Maldivian police spokesman Abdulla Nawaz told AFP by telephone.

The Haveeru newspaper said anti-corruption officials visited the FAM offices in the capital on Monday as part of their investigation.

The ticket row comes after five players and two officials of the Afghan national team were injured in a bus crash in the southern city of Addu on Saturday.

Police spokesman Nawaz said the crash was still under investigation, but preliminary indications showed it was caused by a motorcyclist under the influence of narcotics.

According to Minivan news, police commissioner Hussain Waheed had earlier said it was possible the accident was pre-planned, without giving details. –

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