February 04, 2013

Match-fixing: Champions League tie played in England 'was fixed'

A Champions League tie played in England is one of 380 matches across Europe investigators say was fixed.
European police did not reveal the identity of the match they believe was corrupt in England.

But Europol did say that they had uncovered an organised crime syndicate based in Asia that was co-ordinating the operation.
Some 425 match officials, club officials, players and criminals are suspected of being involved.

At a news conference in The Hague, Netherlands, Europol claimed:

- The fixed Champions League tie in England took place in "last three or four years";
- The identity of that match cannot be revealed due to "ongoing judicial proceedings";
- Other "corrupt" matches included World Cup and European Championship qualifiers and "several top football matches in European leagues";
- In Germany-based matches alone, criminals wagered £13.8m (16m euros) on rigged matches and made £6.9m in profits
Officials fear this is as the "tip of the iceberg".

Rob Wainwright, director of Europol - the European Union's law enforcement agency, said: "This is the work of a suspected organised crime syndicate based in Asia and operated with criminal networks around Europe.

"It is clear to us this is the biggest-ever investigation into suspected match-fixing in Europe. It has yielded major results which we think have uncovered a big problem for the integrity of football in Europe.

"We have uncovered an extensive criminal network."

Europol, which has been investigating for 18 months, said suspected matches included World Cup and European Championship qualifiers, two Champions League ties and "several top football matches in European leagues".

In addition to the £13.8m wagered on Germany-based matches, payments of £1.73m are thought to have been paid to those involved. The biggest payment to an individual was £121,000, according to investigators.

Europol believes a crime syndicate based in Asia was liaising with criminal networks throughout Europe. It believes match-fixing has taken place in 15 countries and 50 people have so far been arrested.

Asked specifically about the allegations surrounding the Champions League tie held in England, Wainwright declined to identify the match because of "ongoing judicial proceedings".

However he did say it happened in the last three to four years, before adding: "The focus has been on other countries, not the United Kingdom. However we were surprised by the scale generally of the criminal enterprise and just how widespread it was.

"It would be naive and complacent of those in the UK to think such a criminal conspiracy does not involve the English game and all the football in Europe."

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