JAKARTA, Indonesia, Nov 23 – Eight Indonesian pro-basketball players and a team official have been banned for life over match fixing, the league said Thursday, reportedly to help their cash-strapped squad pay salaries.
The members of Siliwangi Bandung, one of a dozen teams in the Indonesian Basketball league, were given the boot this week for throwing at least four games last season.
It is the graft-riddled country’s first-known case of basketball fixing, although there have been numerous instances of similar cheating in Indonesia’s most popular sports football and badminton.
“What they did is intolerable,” Indonesia Basketball League commissioner Hasan Gozali said in a statement Thursday.
Local media said the players — who were not receiving their full pay — cheated so gamblers could bet on the outcome of the games, with the team taking a cut of the proceeds.
It is not clear how much money the scheme raised.
Danny Kosasih, chairman of the Indonesian Basketball Federation, which has suspended the nine for between two and five years, would not comment on why the players cheated.
“If someone stole money because he could not buy food, would you call him innocent?” he said.
“Someone gave us recordings of conversations about the match-fixing plan. We confronted the players and they confessed,” Kosasih added.
Former team owner, Dennis Depriadi, acknowledged the team struggled financially.
“Our cash flow was in trouble because several payments [from sponsors] were not made on schedule,” he told AFP.
Siliwangi, based in the city of Bandung southeast of Jakarta, won just four out of 14 games in their last season, making it one of the league’s worst-performing teams.