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By ESPN Staff

Legalised gambling can end corruption - AFC

SINGAPORE, Sept 12 (Reuters) - A legalised betting system is vital to winning the battle against match-fixing, according to Asian Football Confederation general secretary Peter Velappan.

With Vietnamese soccer dogged by yet another fixing scandal, Velappan believes Singapore's approach to organised gambling can act as an example to its Southeast Asian neighbours.

'We have seen football corruption in countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam in the past,' Velappan said on a recent visit to Singapore.

'Singapore had also come under the spotlight previously but they've always been very active in trying to stamp out football corruption.

'The AFC are very satisfied with what Singapore is doing to weed out match-fixing,' he told the Today newspaper.

'Other countries are doing their part but Singapore are a good role model as far as tackling football corruption (is concerned).'

Velappan said he was planning to send Vietnamese Football Federation (VFF) delegates to Singapore to study the city state's legalised gambling system.

'It is definitely one way for Vietnam to eliminate illegal gambling,' Velappan told the newspaper.

'From what the police are doing right now, Vietnam are showing that they are serious about wiping corruption out of their football.'

Vietnamese state media on Tuesday quoted a top government official as saying betting on soccer may be legalised by the middle of next year.

Huynh Vinh Ai, the vice chairman of the country's Committee for Sports and Physical Training, told the Thanh Nien daily that soccer betting would be permitted as soon as a gambling bill is passed by the government.

He said revenues from gambling on the sport would be equal to, or greater than, the five trillion dong ($313.5 million) generated by the country's national lottery each year.

Five foreign bookmakers have expressed interest in setting up in Vietnam and were awaiting the go-ahead from the government, the daily said.

Last week, Vietnamese police said they had identified the man behind a match-fixing scandal at last year's Southeast Asian Games.

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.

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

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.