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'U-21 players easy prey'

sports Updated: Feb 27, 2013 00:16 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
Dhiman Sarkar
Hindustan Times
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The Asian Champions League began on Tuesday with one of the teams hotly denying a match-fixing charge made by a Fifa executive committee member. The AFC Cup, which began on the same day, seems better off on that count but Selangor coach Irfan Bakti said Malaysia is still recovering from the hit it took due to illegal betting in the 90s. "At the highest level, our football's clean now but I think we are still feeling the impact of that scandal," Bakti told HT on Tuesday.

Bakti spoke of "hundreds of arrests" after the government and the Football Association of Malaysia clamped down on match-fixing. Even last year, a coach was jailed for three years, he said. A 2010 report on the internet said illegal betting on football is worth up to 20 billion ringgits.

But close scrutiny of the top tier may have left the under-21s more vulnerable, said Bakti.

"Retired players are part of most such set-ups and tapping under-21 players is easier and can also act as investments for the future," said Bakti without elaborating.