Global soccer match-fixing scandal revealed

Global soccer match-fixing scandal revealed

Global soccer match-fixing scandal revealed

Updated 5 February 2013, 21:19 AEST

Investigators say they have identified hundreds of suspicious soccer matches in a global match fixing scandal including World Cup and Champions League games.

European investigators say they have uncovered a sophisticated organised crime syndicate thought to have fixed about 680 soccer matches, including World Cup qualifiers and Champions League games, between 2008 and 2011.

A joint investigation between Interpol and Europol, the European Union's police agency, has revealed evidence of fixing in about 380 matches across Europe and a further 300 games outside the continent.

Europol director Rob Wainwright said the investigation had identified about 425 corrupt officials, players and serious criminals in 15 countries. Fifty people have been arrested so far.

"This is match-fixing activity on a scale we have not seen before involving hundreds of criminals and corrupted officials and players, affecting hundreds of professional matches and generating very large amounts of illicit profits," Mr Wainwright said.

Investigators say the scam was backed by a Singapore-based betting cartel and had brought in at least 8 million euros ($10.4 million) in proven profits after paying almost $2.5 million in bribes.

German police described a global network involving couriers ferrying bribes around the world, paying off players and referees, with the biggest bribe being $180,000.

This is match-fixing activity on a scale we have not seen before involving hundreds of criminals and corrupted officials and players, affecting hundreds of professional matches and generating very large amounts of illicit profits.

Europol director Rob Wainwright

Accomplices would then place bets on the internet or by phone with bookmakers in Asia, where bets that would be illegal in Europe were accepted.

"One fixed match might involve up to 50 suspects in 10 countries on separate continents," Friedhelm Althans, chief investigator for police in the German city of Bochum, said.

"Even two World Championship qualification matches in Africa, and one in Central America, are under suspicion."

Other matches fixed included World and European Cup qualifying matches and top flight league matches in several European countries.

They also included two Champions League matches, including one played in Britain.

Investigators found that criminals from Asia also participated in the match-fixing and that some of the fixed matches took place outside Europe.

Investigators said no names of players or clubs would be released while the investigation proceeded.

'People will be shocked'

BBC sports commentator Phil Parry says the breadth of the corruption is astonishing.

"I think people will be shocked when they understand the scale of it and when they – the audacity of it, actually," he said.

"When we were talking about some of these high-profile competitions, which are globally known, and it seems to have tentacles that are touching every strata of football across the continent."

He says many people will be wondering how the fixing could be so widespread.

"You sort of wonder how many people do you need to get colluding with you in order to be able to fix a match?" Parry said.

"Because fixing a game doesn't seem easy, but then when you start looking at the numbers and looking at how many people you can get involved and some of the games won't be as high profile and maybe a little bit lower down the footballing scale - when you look at it and you think 'well actually, how much money would it take for people to sort of just turn a blind eye, misplace a back-pass, commit a foul they shouldn't be committing that could influence a game?'

"[You] possibly wouldn't need to necessarily have too many people in your pocket."

Parry admits the scandal will likely damage the code.

"I think in the short term it will certainly create some damage because people will start doubting the sporting integrity, they will start doubting some of the validity of results that have happened," he said.

"I think that from a long-term point of view actually, the action that's already been taken, as long as that campaign carries on, as long as we don't lose our vigilance in regards to this, then I think the battle can still be won and the sport can come out on top."

ABC/Reuters

Please make sure you have read the Terms and Conditions before submitting.

"); // Get the variables we need to pass in var title = $(".article h1").text(); // Check if it's an article if (/.+\/([0-9]+)(#.+)?$/.test(window.location.href)) { // Article var id = window.location.href.match(/.+\/([0-9]+)(#.+)?$/)[1]; } else { // Some other page var id = window.location.href.match(/.\/([a-zA-Z0-9\-]+)(\.[a-z]+|\/gia)?$/)[1]; } // Load them up ABC.News.comments.load({title: title, id: id}); });