A day after Cambodian football champions Phnom Penh Crown announced that seven players and four officials had been indefinitely suspended for match-fixing, the club’s coach and president said Monday that voice recordings obtained by the club revealed an internal plan by the head of its youth academy to influence first team players to throw games.
Sam Schweingruber, a Swiss national who has coached the club since 2012, said the recordings were damning evidence against youth academy head coach Bou Dary and three other club officials, who can be heard attempting to persuade players to underperform in an effort to have him ousted. He did not explain where or when the audio was recorded, or how he had obtained it.
“There’s not allegations, there’s rock solid evidence of what these people have tried to do and done. And therefore we have no choice but to immediately get them out of the club,” Mr. Schweingruber said.
“If the club is pushed to do so, we will release” the recordings, he added.
Mr. Schweingruber said an internal investigation was launched after suspicions were raised over the performance of some players after a recent drop in form that saw the champions lose three of seven matches after an unbeaten run of 15 games at the beginning of the 2015 season.
“I look at videos, I look at somebody scoring by accident and not celebrating, and you’re kind of like ‘What the f—k,’” he said. “I never thought someone would be as cruel to train every day, work every day, be part of the team, and then on purpose underperform or mess everything up.”
Seven first team players, including national team star Sos Suhana—the only player to have scored in Cambodia’s World Cup qualifying campaign—have been removed from the club as a result of the revelations, along with four club officials.
Mr. Schweingruber said there was no evidence of financial incentives for underperforming, and that the match-fixing was merely an attempt to hurt the team’s record and get him sacked.
“Unfortunately that’s what’s really heartbreaking. We have no evidence of financial incentives, therefore there is no other clubs involved. This was all done to get me out in order for them to be in control of the club,” he said, referring to the four suspended officials.
“We discovered heartbreaking stuff, really heartbreaking stuff. I personally cried; I almost threw up at one stage when I had to listen to some of what’s going on,” he added.
Mr. Schweingruber said the suspended officials were unhappy with the way the club was managed, including the decision to not renew the contract of a technical director.
Phnom Penh Crown’s president, Rithy Samnang, also blamed the match-fixing on Mr. Dary, who he said wanted to take “power” from Mr. Schweingruber.
“I think the one that caused this problem is Dary, who has got a problem with Sam and some players,” Mr. Samnang said.
“This one is personal,” he said, adding that Mr. Dary ran away from a gathering of club officials on the evening the match-fixing was uncovered, and was ignoring his requests for a meeting.
Contacted via Facebook, Mr. Dary declined to comment on the allegations against him.
“I just let you know that I love my club and I [am] the one who started the academy,” he said. “I will respond [to] what the club said later.”