Daga United taken to ACC for alleged match-fixing scandal

The Bhutan Football Federation (BFF) has registered an alleged match-fixing case with the Anti-Corruption Commission with regards to Daga United Football Club. According to the federation, the decision was made after evidences were found after an investigation carried out by its Integrity Division. The federation’s Disciplinary Committee also suspended three foreign players a few weeks ago citing an integrity matter was under investigation.

After speculations about match-fixing surfaced, a UK-based sports data and technology company called Genius Sports that provides integrity services to sports leagues, bookmakers and media companies, investigated Daga United’s first two matches of the season.

Match-fixing in football is when the outcome of a match or certain events within the game are deliberately manipulated, often for financial gain.

According to the investigation report, in their match against Paro FC, some of the Daga United players were observed to have played oddly to influence the number of goals conceded.

In another match, the report stated there was a strong consistent live betting in favour of Tensung FC winning the match by an increasing number of goals. The investigation revealed that despite Daga United creating more chances and displaying a stronger performance throughout the first half, it was noticed that bets were strangely placed on the other team. It was again observed that some players were performing unnaturally.

Considering these findings, the two reports suggested further investigations.

Phuntsho Wangdi, the media focal of Bhutan Football Federation said, “After the first match against Paro FC, it was Dagana, then it was very much evident that something was wrong with Dagana United FC. And the match during Tensung and Daga, this is where all the match-fixing surfaced, because there was clear evidence, reports from our partners saying that the match has been fixed by the three players.”

The federation said that during their initial internal investigation, some Bhutanese players in the club also admitted that they also felt that Indian players were involved in match-fixing. Two Indian players and a Nigerian player were suspended before the club’s third match against Thimphu City. However, the BFF said the suspension of the Nigerian player was lifted as he was not found guilty of match-fixing.

“Now we have a concrete report, we have evidence, we have everything. And now we have forwarded the case to ACC, because I think this is a legal issue, a very serious issue, and that it should be dealt legally. So now that we have sought the help of ACC to come in and help us to do more investigation, then after, we will come up to a conclusion,” added Phuntsho Wangdi, BFF’s media focal.

Meanwhile, the owner of Daga United FC said it was unfair that the federation suspended his players on the night before their match against Thimphu City, which impacted the club’s game. He also said that he was not provided concrete evidence of the alleged match-fixing.

“When I asked on what basis they suspected such acts, they said they knew from the way the players played the game. They told me they have footage as evidence, but I do not think this is strong evidence. People say playing football also depends on one-day luck, as it can happen that one can play well today but not the other day,” said Pelchen Thai, the owner of Daga United FC.

The club had five foreign players. The owner told BBS that a Thai individual sponsored him four Indian players and a Bangladeshi coach for the season. The sponsor also helped pay off previous debts and agreed to cover the players’ salaries. The four Indian players were to be paid directly by the sponsor. However, the owner said he did not receive any additional money from the sponsor.

On the other hand, the federation said that due to the club’s financial instability, they questioned whether the club would be able to fund the ongoing six-month BOB Bhutan Premier League season apart from the federation’s grant. However, with assurance from Dagana District Administration and residents of Dagana, the club’s entry was allowed.

Meanwhile, the owner of the club has stepped down from his role as the president of the club.

The Indian players have left the club for India. The coach is on leave and has left the country. The owner said the coach will return within this month.

Daga United progressed to the BOB Bhutan Premier League after topping the Pepsi Bhutan Premier League Qualifiers in an unbeaten record.

In the current BOB Bhutan Premier League season, Daga United has lost all of its four games so far.

Kinzang Lhadon

Edited by Kipchu

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