The five-member ad hoc panel set up by the Football Federation of Cambodia to probe the indefinite suspensions of seven players and four officials imposed by Phnom Penh Crown Football Club in early November for alleged match-fixing, has reportedly come across several surprises during its hearings.

According to a panel members who spoke to the Phnon Penh Post yesterday on the condition of anonymity, the audio recording presented by the club as evidence of a conspiracy to influence results of matches during the league season did indicate a disturbing trend.

“The panel has processed testimonies and evidence and has gone through the deliberations with due diligence,” the source said.

“The suspended players and officials were interviewed separately and collectively. The club’s version had also been heard. We have taken this very seriously,” the source added.

The Post has reliably learned that the panel was convinced that the recording had neither been altered nor edited, and that the continuity of conversations added value.

“We could recognise the voices and put a name to them. All I can say is that we were surprised to hear what we did from people we had known.

We certainly think one or two has a strong case to answer but there appears to be a varying degree of involvement.”

This determination has seemingly led the panel to believe that a few individuals may have been willing participants at the behest of whoever promoted this scheme, while others may have been unwittingly drawn in.

The panel is understood to have come to the conclusion that money had not been a motive and the probable cause leaned more towards a “fierce and simmering personal conflict between two individuals seeking to safeguard their own professional interests”.

Addressing the issue of a seemingly long delay in resolving this case, the panel has made it known that the scope of its probe extended to even names of individuals and clubs that were mentioned during the course of the hearings, clearly implying that all aspects of the case had to been given its due weightage.

It had been forcefully pointed out that the career prospects of several young players in that suspended group also had to be taken into consideration.

The panel has also chosen to turn its sights on another underlying element – to make sure that the charges brought against wrongdoers are not frivolous.

“This is a major test for Cambodian football. That is the reason why we have to avoid a rush to judgement – to make sure the innocent are spared and the guilty do not go unpunished,” the panel insider told the Post.

While a firm date has not yet been set for the panel to conclude its work and hand over its findings to the Disciplinary Committee of the FFC for further action, the final resolution will have to be made before the start of the first competition of the next season, the Hun Sen Cup, which starts in January.

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