KUALA LUMPUR - The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has asked its member associations to appoint integrity officials to report any issues of match-fixing as they battle to clear up corruption in the sport.
The AFC, which has 46 full members and one associate member in Northern Mariana Islands, has set a deadline of June 30 to make the appointments, with those hired reporting to the organisation's integrity officer Hassan Haider Khan.
"Responsibilities of the integrity officer are to establish and maintain integrity initiatives within the MA (member associations), receive information related to match-fixing matters within the MA and conduct inquiries or investigations as an administrative 'fact finder' in coordination with AFC and relevant national law enforcement agencies." AFC Director of MAs and Development Sanjeevan Balasingam said in a statement.
AFC members have long battled match-fixing issues with China, South Korea, Lebanon, Australia, Malaysia and Singapore among countries to have been hit by the problem. AFC President Sheikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, elected to the position last year, promised to tackle the issue upon taking office but problems have continued.
Last month, Vietnam Cup holders Vissai Ninh Binh were kicked out of the domestic league for the remainder of the campaign after 11 of their players admitted to taking money to fix a match in the regional AFC Cup tournament. Despite the admission, Vissai have been allowed to continue in the AFC Cup and will find out their quarter-final opponents in the competition this week. The AFC said they were committed to clearing up the problems.
"The AFC is focused on upholding the core values of football such as Fair Play, achievement by merit and the uncertainty of the outcome of matches and competitions," the AFC statement, released on Monday, continued. "Match-fixing is a dangerous threat to the game, therefore, the AFC along with its MA strive to protect the integrity of its competitions and enhance good governance across football in the region."