A match-fixing scandal threatens to taint basketball in the nation, after Taiwan Beer coach Yen Chia-hua (閻家驊), a former national team head coach, was on Wednesday released on bail of NT$500,000 following questioning by prosecutors as part of an investigation into gambling allegations.
The Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office is leading the investigation, as 63-year-old Yen allegedly placed bets in Taipei on the results of the William Jones Cup in 2015, when he was manager of the Chinese Taipei basketball team.
The scandal has shocked officials, players, the Chinese Taipei Basketball Association and fans, as Yen is a highly respected figure in the sport and is the coach with the most wins (225) in Taiwan’s Super Basketball League, having led Taiwan Beer to four championship titles in the league’s 14-year history.
Photo: Lin Cheng-kung, Taipei Times
As the scandal could gravely damage the credibility of the sport and expose the murky side of the inner circles of Taiwanese basketball, Yen yesterday released a statement announcing his resignation as head coach of Taiwan Beer.
“I will fully cooperate with the investigation and have resigned my head coach position, effective today, to show that I take responsibility for my actions,” Yen said in the statement. “I deeply regret harming the team and basketball fans.”
Officials said Yen’s case was the result of a Criminal Investigation Bureau probe into an illegal online gambling operation, in which witness testimony and evidence pointed to his involvement in betting on the results of the national basketball team’s games in 2015 while under his charge.
Prosecutors yesterday confirmed that bureau and police units had raided Yen’s residence on Wednesday and summoned him for questioning, with the investigation focusing on illegal gambling and whether he had instructed players to throw games to profit from bets on fixed outcomes.
Yen has maintained that he did not engage in illegal gambling, saying that it was his friends who had placed the bets.
However, prosecutors said they have gathered evidence pointing to Yen’s involvement, adding that raids were also conducted on the residences of his girlfriend, surnamed Cheng (盛); the alleged boss of the gambling operations, surnamed Tsai (蔡); and Tsai’s wife.
Yen used Cheng’s accounts to place bets on the national team’s games, as well as other basketball competitions, investigators said, adding that telephone records indicated that he had a close relationship with Tsai.
Association chairman Ting Shou-chung (丁守中), a former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) legislator, yesterday asked the public to keep its faith in the sport, saying: “We are confident SBL games are clean.”
“SBL games have not been tainted, because they are not often included in the nation’s sports lottery, in which the Jones Cup is listed as an international competition,” Ting said. “If the case concerns underground betting, the SBL has not been affected, because, from our understanding, very few people bet on SBL games.”
As of this week, Taiwan Beer are tied with the Fubon Braves for second in the league with a 15-9 record, trailing leaders the Dacin Tigers (16-7).
TIGHTENED RULES: Employees in the affected sectors must be fully vaccinated by Jan. 1 or provide an exemption certificate, and they must undergo COVID-19 testing People working in sectors supervised by the education, economics, labor, and health and welfare ministries must be fully vaccinated by next month, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said yesterday. “Starting from Jan. 1, vaccination rules for workers at industries supervised by the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, the Ministry of Labor, and the Ministry of Health and Welfare will be further enhanced,” said Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥), who is the CECC’s spokesman. New employees and those returning to work must provide a negative COVID-19 test result — an antigen rapid test, at-home rapid
THREAT REMAINS: With cases rising in many parts of the world, the minister urged the public to continue complying with the disease prevention regulations Taiwan can be considered to have achieved “COVID zero” status, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday, despite the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) reporting 21 imported cases of COVID-19, the highest number of daily imported infections reported this year. Chen, who heads the CECC, said no local infections or deaths were reported, but 21 imported cases were confirmed yesterday. The imported cases are eight men and 13 women who arrived from Belize, Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam and the US, Chen said. The highest number of daily imported infections last year was 25 cases on March 23, he
NO ENTRY: The refusal to process Lithuanian goods at Chinese ports suggests that they have been ordered to do so by an official entity, a trade group head said The Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called on the governments of other EU member states to jointly respond to Beijing blocking Lithuanian exports from entering China, as “Lithuania is not listed on the [Chinese customs] system as a country.” Lithuanian media Web site 15min.lt yesterday cited a Lithuanian wood exporter as saying that it was not allowed to unload its goods at an unnamed Chinese port. The company said that its Chinese partner cited customs authorities as saying that any merchandise or shipments related to Lithuania would be refused, effective immediately. Lithuanian timber exporter Sprusas confirmed that Lithuanian goods could be loaded
‘RESOLUTELY COMMITTED’: Sparking a crisis in the Taiwan Strait would be in no one’s interest, starting with China, the US secretary of state told a conference US Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the Reuters Next conference on Friday that Chinese leaders should think carefully about their actions toward Taiwan, warning of “terrible consequences” if China precipitates a crisis across the Taiwan Strait. In an interview, Blinken addressed multiple foreign policy challenges facing the administration of US President Joe Biden, including faltering efforts to repair the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine and the spiraling conflict in Ethiopia. Most acute might be China’s increasingly aggressive posture toward Taiwan. Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) has said tensions with China are at their worst in