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SINGAPORE – The Southeast Asian (SEA) Games was rocked by a match-fixing scandal on Monday when East Timor’s under-23 team manager was suspended from football over alleged bribery and corruption.
Orlando Marques Henriques Mendes was provisionally barred from football activities for 30 days after he was detained and charged by Singapore’s anti-corruption bureau, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) said.
It was an unfortunate beginning for the regional multi-sport event in Singapore, a city seen as a center for international match-fixing networks.
The AFC has opened disciplinary proceedings against Mendes for alleged violations of its rules on bribery and match integrity, a statement said.
Mendes’ suspension can be extended once for a further period of 20 days, the AFC added.
On Friday Singapore’s Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau said it had been “proactively monitoring football match-fixing activities” and acted on information to arrest “a Singaporean alleged match-fixer and several co-conspirators of different nationalities”.
East Timor lost their opening game on Saturday 1-0 to Malaysia, who played most of the game with 10 men after the dismissal of playmaker Nazmi Faiz Mansor.
Football is among a handful of events which are getting under way before the SEA Games’ opening ceremony at Singapore’s National Stadium on Friday.
Singapore has been hit by previous fixing scandals including in April 2013, when a local businessman provided prostitutes for visiting referees to influence an AFC Cup game.
Alleged global match-fixing mastermind Tan Seet Eng, or Dan Tan, is being held under a law that allows for indefinite detention following a crackdown in September that year.
Experts say low-level games are most vulnerable to offers from match-fixers because players and officials are typically not well paid.
At last year’s Asian Games at Incheon in South Korea, a betting analysis company said there were strong indications of match-fixing in the football competition’s early rounds.