KUALA LUMPUR: The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has handed life bans to Laos internationals Khampheng Sayavutthi and Lembo Saysana for conspiring to fix a match, Asian football’s governing body said on Wednesday.

The duo were found to have committed offences under Article 66.1 of the AFC Disciplinary and Ethics Code when they attempted to manipulate the result of a game between Hong Kong and Laos on Oct. 5, 2017.

Hong Kong won the match 4-0, scoring goals in the 10th, 13th and 73rd minutes before converting from the penalty spot in the 83rd.

Both players will not be able to take part in any football-related activities for life, the AFC said.

“The Lao Football Federation has been informed of the decisions and the AFC will request FIFA to extend the bans worldwide in due course,” the AFC said in a statement.

“The latest sanction demonstrates the AFC is fully committed to its zero-tolerance policy on match-fixing and its regulations provide for tough sanctions for match manipulation.”

It added that no further details would be disclosed with an investigation ongoing.

It is not the first time Laos football has come under scrutiny over alleged match-fixing.

Top team Lao Toyota FC were banned from the 2018 AFC Cup for “arranging or influencing” the outcome of matches in the 2015 and 2016 tournament.

Ranked 188th in the world out of 210 teams by FIFA, Laos has a weak footballing infrastructure.

Communist-run and poor, the country has little money for sports investment.

But Laotians are football-mad and in recent years privately sponsored local teams have cropped up, most based in the capital Vientiane.

Published in Dawn, February 27th, 2020