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.
This is really sad to read. My friends and I live for football and to know that your role models in the field are actually purposely foiling their game is a huge let down. It makes us feel like fools for rooting for our favourite teams during the World Cup and Euro 2012, wearing teamcolours and egging on players running across the TV screen. Was it all a farce? When did sports become playacting? I read recently about Armstrong's doping scandal and wondered... sports is the place where man's potential should be celebrated and where players' aspirationsbecome an inspiring reality for the world to see. The ups and downs, the triumphs and defeats - sports encapsulates life and gives people something to learn from and seek inspiration from in a world that is far too bleak. So why are sportspersons, who should know infinitely better, intent on ruining it for everyone?
Hamza Stafford5 February 2013 12:17jump to comments