Cambodian football champions Phnom Penh Crown have been dropped from the upcoming Asian Football Confederation (AFC) Cup over a match-fixing scandal last year, the confederation said on Friday, despite the fact that the club uncovered the plot as part of an internal investigation.
In November, seven players and four officials were suspended after voice recordings obtained by the club revealed an internal plan by Bou Dary, head of its youth academy, to influence first-team players to throw games in an effort to have coach Sam Schweingruber ousted.
The Football Federation of Cambodia later found the officials guilty and banned them from the sport temporarily but cleared the players.
As champion of the country’s C-League, Phnom Penh Crown was nominated by the federation to appear in qualifiers for the AFC Cup, the region’s second-tier football tournament.
On Friday, however, the AFC barred the club from participating in the competition over last year’s match-fixing scandal.
“We can confirm that the AFC has refused the participation of Phnom Penh Crown FC in the AFC Cup 2017 Play-off Qualifiers,” an AFC spokeswoman said in an email on Friday.
“This is due to four officials affiliated with the club having been found guilty (by the Disciplinary Committee of the Football Federation of Cambodia in a decision on 29 January 2016) of offences relating to match-fixing,” she said.
“The AFC Statutes are very clear on the issue, and article 73.6 states that a club that is found guilty of match-fixing will be refused entry to AFC competitions.” Mr. Schweingruber could not be reached on Friday. In a statement, however, his club spoke of “its extreme disappointment” at being ousted from the tournament.
“We have done everything we possibly can to support the fight against corruption, cheating and match-manipulation, and we feel this decision sends out the wrong message to our own club and its supporters, to the whole of Cambodian football and to the wider world of football.”