A month has passed since Super Basketball League (SBL) player Wu Chi-ying (吳季穎), who played for Taiwan Beer this season, was questioned on suspicion of match fixing while he was with the Yulon Luxgen Dinos the previous season.
Over the past month, prosecutors conducted another two investigations into alleged match fixing. Players were questioned and their residences searched. Every investigation has caused an uproar and fans are losing trust in the sport.
The Chinese Taipei Basketball Association, teams and government agencies have proposed solutions, as did the parallel bodies amid the dark times of 1996 to 2009, when several baseball professionals were caught up in match fixing scandals. It seems that history is repeating, but effective solutions have not been found.
To end the problem, the government must play a significant role in reforming the system, and tighter laws must be enacted and enforced.
Several measures have been announced to deal with the basketball scandals. Prosecutors have collaborated with teams in their investigations and teams have updated their rules to increase penalties for people found guilty of fixing.
However, these measures were tried in 2009. Nothing really worked until the Executive Yuan convened a national baseball conference, at which the government showed its determination to reform the entire system.
First, several agencies, the leagues, teams and players’ associations established a platform to prevent gambling and illegal betting. Second, members of the Taiwan Professional Baseball Players’ Association formed a trust fund to stop illicit betting. Third, the Sports Lottery Issuance Act (運動彩券發行條例) was revised to increase penalties for illegal betting. Fourth, baseball associations amended their regulations for free agency, minimum income and player transfers to enhance the environment for professional baseball players in Taiwan.
After the recent spate of basketball incidents, many proposals have been put forward to address match fixing. It is regrettable that the Ministry of Education’s Sports Administration has failed to intervene or provide significant assistance.
The Sports Administration must lay out extensive plans to change the education system and examine the sports environment to enhance conditions for athletes.
Still, it is much more important to address the problem through legislative means.
After the Sports Lottery Issuance Act was amended, the Chinese Professional Baseball League faced heavy fines due to betting scandals.
However, while the SBL is covered by the act, the other professional leagues — the P.League+ and the T1 League, as well as leagues in many other sports run by corporations — are not. They are not subject to penalties under the act, meaning they might become a loophole for illegal betting and match fixing.
While articles 7.1 to 7.3 of the Sports Industry Development Act (運動產業發展條例) are to be revised, with draft amendments waiting to be evaluated at the legislature, it should seize the opportunity to amend the Sports Lottery Issuance Act. It should work to improve the environment for professional and amateur sports, and the law should more comprehensively cover leagues.
Hopefully, that would help address the problem of illegal betting and match fixing.
Chiao Chia-hung is former deputy director of the Taiwan Professional Baseball Players’ Association.
Translated by Emma Liu
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