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By ESPN Staff

Vietnamese police identify alleged match-fixing kingpin

HANOI, Sept 6 (Reuters) - Vietnamese police say they have identified the man behind a match-fixing scandal at last year's Southeast Asian Games, local media reported.

Ly Quoc Ky is accused of running an underground betting ring which allegedly paid players to fix the scoreline of Vietnam's group stage match with Myanmar at the 2005 SEA Games soccer tournament in the Philippines, the Thanh Nien Daily said.

Police said Ky had gone on the run and had ignored calls to turn himself in to face the charges, the daily reported.

He is accused of paying seven players 500 million dong ($31,000) each to ensure Vietnam won the game by a single goal.

A slender victory for Vietnam against the much weaker Myanmar attracted favourable odds given the country's high scoring record going into the tournament.

Seven people linked to the match are currently in detention awaiting trial, six of whom are under house arrest.

Truong Tan Hai, a former national team player, was arrested two weeks ago on two counts of bribery, after he allegedly fixed the SEA Games match and a V-League title decider in 2001.

Police said on Tuesday they had launched a separate probe into a crucial Vietnamese third tier league game on May 31 between Sara Thanh Vinh and Quang Ninh Coal, where both sides stood to gain promotion to the second division.

Investigators believe six players from both teams may have been paid to ensure Quang Ninh Coal won the game, state media reported.

Despite the launch of a "clean hands" campaign last year to root out match-rigging, the practice is still rife in Vietnam's most popular sport.

The country will co-host the Asian Cup tournament with Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia in July 2007.