Police investigating Asia Series match-fixing claim

The China Post news staff

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Police have confirmed that they are investigating a complaint by a Canberra Cavalry player who said he was offered US$30,000 to fix an Asia Series baseball game. The Cavalry catcher, Matt Blazyniski, said he was approached by two people at a Taichung bar on the eve of his Australian team’s semi-final against the Samsung Lions last week, police said. He said he refused the offer and later reported to the team. The team alerted the tournament organizers, who then referred the case to police.

The Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB), which has been assigned the case, has yet to identify any suspects.

The complaint has rubbed salt on a yet-to-be-healed wound in Taiwan’s match-fixing-marred professional baseball history. Huang Chen-tai, head of Taiwan’s Chinese Professional Baseball League (CPBL), said his group immediately reported the incident to police after receiving the complaint from the Cavalry on Nov. 18. The CPBL also asked all other teams in the tournament to see if any of them had received any similar match-fixing offers, Huang said, adding that the conclusion was that the Cavalry offer was an isolated incident. Huang said the police investigation has yet to see any significant progress, but stressed that the CPBL will report to police any alleged match-fixing activity.

The news about the alleged match-fixing scandal was first broken by the Canberra Times in its Saturday edition.

Blazynski was cited as saying that he was asked to influence his teammates to lose the semi-final against Korean champions Samsung Lions by at least seven runs. Given that the Korean league is one of the best in the world, the Lions were expected to beat the Cavalry and advance to the final. But the Cavalry beat the Lions 9-5 in extra innings to advance to the final against Taiwan’s Uni-President Lions, which the former eventually won by a score of 14-4. Blazynski did not play during the Asia Series and has yet to play for the Cavalry in the current Australian Baseball League (ABL) season, the paper said. The paper noted that while the money offered does not seem much, it is almost as much as the entire Canberra payroll for the entirety of the ABL season. Taiwan’s United Evening News said it is not the first time that underground bookies have reportedly approached foreign baseball teams asking them to fix matches during international tournaments in Taiwan. In 2006, a Cuban baseball team was said have been contacted by underground bookies who asked them to throw their game against the Taiwanese team, according to the paper.

More than 200 police officers were deployed at the venue where the game took place, but found nothing to substantiate their claims. The Cuban team eventually lost to the Taiwanese side.