Match-fixing scandal involves Hong Kong Premier League club North District goalkeeper after a deflected pass led to a goal

Leung Chi-wing

29th May 2024 – (Hong Kong) Hong Kong’s football scene has been rocked by allegations of widespread match-fixing involving a Premier League team and several Second Division clubs. The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) has conducted a thorough investigation, resulting in the arrest of 12 men, including football players, coaches, and intermediaries linked to illegal betting.

According to the ICAC, this intricate bribery network involved members of the newly promoted Hong Kong Premier League club North District. This team, coached by former Hong Kong national team player Leung Chi-wing, finished eighth in the league last season. The probe revealed that the corruption extended beyond the Premier League, implicating two Second Division teams in the scandal.

The investigation has spotlighted goalkeeper Lam Chun-kit, who featured prominently for Hong Kong Premier League club North District throughout the season. The case also involves a series of manipulated games spanning three football seasons from 2021 to 2023, where specific match outcomes, such as goals and corners, were allegedly fixed to benefit illegal betting syndicates.

ICAC’s principal investigator, Matthew Chang, expressed concern over the systemic nature of these corrupt practices, likening them to a “virus” capable of undermining the integrity of the entire league. “The corruption was sophisticated, involving clandestine signals during matches to orchestrate the gameplay according to the betters’ needs,” Chang explained.

The operation saw more than 20 premises raided and numerous individuals associated with the league questioned. While the full scope of the illegal bets and the total amount of money involved are still being assessed, early estimates suggest figures surpassing HK$1 million in illicit gains.

The Football Association of Hong Kong has vowed full cooperation with the ongoing investigation, emphasising a zero-tolerance stance towards corruption. “Should these allegations be substantiated, severe actions including lifetime bans and revocation of club memberships will be enforced,” a spokesperson from the association declared.

This scandal has prompted calls for stricter regulatory measures and enhanced anti-corruption education within the local sports community. The Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau has also weighed in, asserting its commitment to eradicating illegal activities in sports and reinforcing the ethical standards across all levels of football in Hong Kong.