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FIFPro notes the decision taken by Malaysian football authorities to hand out "more proportionate" sanctions to the players involved in a match-fixing scandal, recognising that these players had been "victims of circumstance".

The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) on Wednesday confirmed that 17 players from Kuala Lumpur FA had been fined 5,000 Malaysian ringgit ($1,500 USD) for match-fixing, while another five players and three team officials from Kuala Lumpur were handed life bans and fined in December.

In the Malaysian daily the Star FAM disciplinary committee chairman Taufek Abdul Razak explained that the aforementioned 17 players received less severe punishment because they had been "victims of circumstance".

"Our investigations revealed that the players had no option ... they were threatened with physical harm by the bookies", Taufek said.

He added: "The players have pleaded guilty and appealed for leniency. So, we decided to fine them because they fixed the matches under duress. The players wanted to report to the authorities but feared for their safety. In fact, some of the players were beaten up for not following the orders of the bookies."

To FIFPro, the comments by chairman Taufek Abdul Razak and the decision by the FAM Disciplinary Committee, are a step in the right direction, as they are more in line with FIFPro's view on the role of football players implicated in match-fixing.

FIFPro – the worldwide representative of all professional footballers – emphasises that match-fixing is rarely initiated by the players. They are often victims put under enormous pressure by either criminals or dubious club officials, who force them into manipulating matches.

Research, among others by Europol and investigative reporter Declan Hill, support FIFPro's view that match-fixing is organized crime.

FIFPro urges all other footballing authorities to take note of the decision by the Malaysian football association as it sensibly takes into consideration the reality of specific circumstances, as opposed to ineffective, draconian measures such as zero tolerance policies. These so-called blanket bans fail to address the core issues. Besides that, it is a fact that zero tolerance is not the solution to match-fixing.