Southeast Asia Indonesia

The Spectre of Match-Fixing Looms Over the Liga 2 Again as Perserang Sack Head Coach and 5 Players

When Liga 2 Indonesia side Perserang Serang posted a post on their Instagram announcing the departure of head coach Putut Wijanarko on Wednesday, everyone thought that it was a gentlemen’s gesture from Putut – having gone without a win in their last 4 games, the pressure was on the head coach to churn out positive results in the second half of the Liga 2’s mini-league round as Perserang are currently a point off last place in their group, and Putut felt that he had reached his limits with the team. However, the truth was much more sinister than that.

Shortly after announcing Putut’s departure, news broke out that the Perserang higher-ups have reported a match-fixing plot developing within the Laskar Singadaru to the Football Federation of Indonesia (PSSI). The plot sees an unknown person or an unknown group contacting a number of Perserang players and staff members, telling them to throw away their games against RANS Cilegon FC, Persekat Kabupaten Tegal, and Badak Lampung FC in exchange for money.

And indeed, Perserang did fail to win in any of those games – drawing 0-0 with the Raffi Ahmad-owned RANS Cilegon, limping to a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Persekat, and being obliterated 4-1 by Badak Lampung.

According to Perserang manager Babay Karnawi, swift and immediate action was taken after the club’s higher-ups have gathered statements, evidence, and information regarding a match-fixing plot involving a number of Perserang’s players and even their head coach.

Going out of the door alongside Putut were five Perserang players – Eka Dwi Susanto, Fandi Edi, Ivan Julyandhi, Aray Suhendri, and Ade Ivan Hafilah, the latter being a surprise exit as the striker had bagged two goals in Perserang’s only win in the season so far, a 2-1 victory over PSKC Kota Cimahi.

And while the six were released after a performance review that was conducted after the first half of the mini-league round was done and dusted, the six’s names were eerily similar to the initials being released by Perserang in regards to their former players and coach who were implicated in the match-fixing plot.

“A number of people have contacted our players, asking them to throw away matches against RANS Cilegon, Persekat, and Badak Lampung,” said Babay as quoted from Goal Indonesia, “This is a huge violation of our integrity and ethics, and with that in mind we’ve terminated the contracts of the players and staff member involved in the plot. We would like to thank the other Perserang players and staff members who are helping us in fighting against those who threaten to ruin the integrity of football.”

Babay added that he had forwarded the report on the match-fixing plot implicating Perserang to the PSSI’s judicial body, and the federation has spoken that they will get to the bottom of this plot and charge those who were responsible.

“We will act swiftly and decisively against those involved in match-fixing,” said PSSI secretary-general Yunus Nusi as quoted from Tribunnews, “They have brought shame upon Indonesian football and we won’t stop until those responsible for this have been brought to justice.”

Sadly match-fixing isn’t something that’s rare in Indonesian football. Persebaya Surabaya legend Mursyid Effendi infamously scored an own-goal against Thailand in the 1998 AFF Championship so that Indonesia would avoid tournament favorites Vietnam in the semifinal – an act that was punished with a lifetime ban from international football for Mursyid.

The 2014 Liga Indonesia Premier Division season also saw an infamous match-fixing scandal, where both PSS Sleman and PSIS Semarang scored five own goals in a 3-2 win for PSS. The two teams were trying to avoid Pusamania Borneo FC in the next round, which they see as a much more superior team that could impede their quest for promotion.

More recently, the 2018 Liga 2 season saw a match-fixing attempt from PS Mojokerto Putra, with Krisna Adi purposely missing a penalty against Aceh United that ensured a 3-2 Aceh United win. Krisna Adi was banned from football for life by the PSSI while PSMP were banned from the Indonesian football pyramid for three years.