Over 680 suspicious football matches including qualifying games for the World Cup and European Championships, and the Champions League for top European club sides, have been identified in an inquiry by European police forces, the European anti-crime agency Europol, and national prosecutors.
”This is a sad day for European football,” said Rob Wainwright, director of Europol.
”This is now an integrity issue for football. Those responsible for running the games should hear the warnings.”
The matches in question, some of which have already been subject to successful criminal prosecutions, were played between 2008 and 2011, the investigators said. About 380 of the suspicious matches were played in Europe, and a further 300 were identified in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Corruption linked to Asian betting syndicates and organised crime has long been seen as a threat to the game, but Monday’s announcement underlines the scale of the problem.
Criminal gangs are believed to be involved in match-fixing networks, using them as a way to launder cash.
Last year the head of an anti-corruption watchdog estimated that $US1 trillion was gambled on sport each year – or US$3 billion a day – with most coming from Asia and wagered on football matches.
UEFA, European football’s governing body, said it expected to receive further information from Europol in the coming days.
”As part of the fight against the manipulation of matches, UEFA is already cooperating with the authorities on these serious matters as part of its zero tolerance policy towards match-fixing in our sport,” it added.
Haven’t heard from Sepp Blatter yet. FIFA of course are lilly white when it comes to corruption scandals. And yes for some of you conspiracy theory ridden English fans this is your chance to claim England really are good enough to be world champions but the money must be too good.