Two Laos national team footballers have been handed life bans over alleged match-fixing in a four-goal friendly defeat to Hong Kong, the Asian Football Confederation said Wednesday.
Khampheng Sayavutthi and Lembo Saysana were found guilty of “conspiring to manipulate” the result of the October 2017 friendly, which was played in Hong Kong.
A disciplinary panel banned the pair from taking part in “any football-related actvities for life,” the AFC said in a statement, adding it will ask global football body FIFA to extend the bans world-wide.
The AFC — the governing body of Asian football — did not reveal details of the alleged match rigging to avoid joepardising an ongoing probe.
But it said the tough sanction reflects a “zero-tolerance policy on match-fixing”. It is not the first time Laos football has come under scrutiny over alleged match-fixing.
Top team Lao Toyota FC were banned from the 2018 AFC Cup for “arranging or influencing” the outcome of matches in the 2015 and 2016 tournament. Ranked 188th in the world out of 210 teams by FIFA, Laos has a weak footballing infrastructure.
Communist-run and poor, the country has little money for sports investment. But Laotians are football-mad and in recent years privately sponsored local teams have cropped up, most based in the capital Vientiane.