Fri, Nov 10, 2017 - Page 3 News List

Baseball scandal leads to lawsuits and investigation

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Brothers Baseball Club player Chiang Chih-hsien, left, and his lawyer, right, pose outside the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday.

Photo: CNA

Last month’s firestorm over alleged misconduct by Brothers Baseball Club players has led top sports officials to call for a judicial probe into accusations of game-fixing in the Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL), while star players embroiled in the scandal have threatened to file lawsuits against media outlets.

Brothers supporters yesterday initiated an online petition to oust team manager Liu Chih-wei (劉志威), saying that he mishandled the situation and his incompetence allowed the scandal to snowball over the past weeks.

Liu on Monday released seven veteran players and dropped the team’s two top stars, Lin Chih-sheng (林智勝), the CPBL’s highest-paid man, and power hitter Chiang Chih-hsien (蔣智賢), who are to play in Australia next season.

The decision came after players were accused of engaging in extramarital affairs, questionable financial dealings, insubordination, drinking during games and contacts with shady characters, sparking an avalanche of reports and commentary in the Chinese-language weekly Next Magazine, on Sanlih E-Television (SET-TV) and other media outlets.

“Numerous rumors and allegations are being circulated. Regarding accusations of players engaging in match-fixing, we can only let the judiciary deal with this matter,” Liu said in a statement on Wednesday.

“We cannot accuse any player of throwing games. We only dealt with the players’ performance for the team. If they did not meet expectations, we released them, as we want to rebuild the team,” Liu said.

During a news conference on Wednesday, Lin and pitcher Chen Hung-wen (陳鴻文) denied any misconduct or illegal activities, saying that they wanted to continue playing baseball.

Chiang, who is also embroiled in the scandal, was yesterday accompanied to the Taipei District Prosecutors’ Office by his lawyer as he filed a lawsuit against Next Magazine and SET-TV for making what he said were inaccurate reports and baseless accusations against him.

He said that besides Next Magazine, commentators on SET-TV’s talk show 54 New Ideas had made false accusations, adding that he wanted to clear his name and protect his family.

Chen Fei-chuan (陳斐娟), the show’s host, said the guests on her show had based their accusations on reliable sources and that “protecting one’s sources is the basic code of conduct for journalists.”

“The media can only work earnestly to fulfill their responsibility as observers and provide reminders to society,” she wrote in a statement. “Only the sports clubs and the judiciary can give us the facts, so how long can they remain silent on this matter?”

Baseball is the nation’s most popular sport and the scandal has led to intense discussion between netizens and sports commentators, and has caught the attention of government officials.

Sports Administration Director-General Lin Te-fu (林德福) yesterday said that his office would take action in response to speculation about CPBL players engaging in underground betting and match-fixing.

“I have requested that the Sports Administration convene a meeting with law enforcement agencies and baseball officials. If there are rotten apples in the lot, then they will be punished and not let off lightly,” Lin Te-fu wrote in a statement.

“There is no gray area in these matters, there is only black and white,” Lin Te-fu wrote. “We are resolved to take all necessary measures to ensure sports fans can enjoy a clean baseball competition.”

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