The Hague, Netherlands: A wide-ranging match-fixing investigation has uncovered more than 380 suspicious matches — including Word Cup and European Championship qualifiers and two Champions League games — and found evidence that a Singapore-based crime group is closely involved in match-fixing.
“This is a sad day for European football,” Rob Wainwright, head of the European Union police organisation Europol, said at a news conference on Monday. He said the investigation uncovered “match-fixing activity on a scale we have not seen before”.
The probe uncovered euros 8 million (Dh39.9 million) in betting profits and euros 2 million in bribes to players and officials and has already led to several prosecutions.
Wainwright said the involvement of organised crime “highlights a big problem for the integrity of football in Europe”.
He said a Singapore-based criminal network was involved in the match-fixing, spending up to euros 100,000 per match to bribe players and officials.
It was not immediately clear how many of the matches mentioned on Monday have been revealed in previous match-fixing investigations in countries including Germany and Italy.
Wainwright and other officials and prosecutors declined to identify any of the suspects, players or matches involved, citing their ongoing investigations.
He said while many fixed matches were already known, the Europol investigation lifted the lid on the widespread involvement or organised crime in rigging games.
“This is the first time we have established substantial evidence that organised crime is now operating in the world of football,” he said.
Wainwright said a “concerted effort” across the football world was needed to tackle the corruption.