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By ESPN Staff

Vietnamese chief baffled by new match-fixing tactic

HANOI, Sept 13 (Reuters) - Vietnam's soccer chief admits he is facing a headache about a new kind of match-fixing for which there is no law to prevent, a report said on Wednesday.

Nguyen Trong Hy, the chairman of the Vietnam Football Federation, said that unlike the common practice of fixing scorelines in return for cash, league sides were deliberately losing matches to help other teams stave off relegation, the Thanh Nien daily reported.

Hy described the practice as 'immoral philanthropy' but admitted it was a test to existing legislation as no money had changed hands.

Games were being deliberately lost as a result of close ties between managers and owners of different clubs, who were exchanging favours to guarantee survival in Vietnam's top flight, the daily quoted him as saying.

Police have launched a probe into mid-table Danang's 2-0 loss to bottom side Tien Giang on Aug. 13, which they described as the most dubious game of the season, the report said.

Vietnam has been tainted by a string of match-fixing scandals, the most high-profile taking place during last year's Southeast Asian Games in the Philippines.

Eight current and former national team players have been charged with ensuring Vietnam beat minnows Myanmar by a goal to nil in return for 500 million dong ($31,000) each - an outcome which attracted favourable odds.

Police said another player, the alleged ringleader Ly Quoc Ky, has gone on the run.

Gambling is illegal in Vietnam, although widespread police corruption allows underground betting rings to flourish.

A Vietnamese government official on Tuesday said the country may legalise soccer betting by mid 2007, which the Asian Football Confederation said could help to rid the game of match-fixing.