Around 200 European football games are under investigation over match fixing allegations, including three in the Champions League. For UEFA officials, its the largest ever match-fixing scandal.
UEFA said it was “stupefied” by the findings that no fewer than 200 matches were fixed in betting fraud schemes. Nine national championships were involved, as were three Champions League matches and 12 European League matches.
In Turkey, the country most affected, 29 matches were tampered with. The scandal also hit teams in such far-flung nations as Hungary, Croatia, Slovenia, Belgium, Bosnia, and Austria.
"Without doubt this is the biggest scam there has ever been in European football," UEFA's match-fixing specialist Peter Limacher said in Germany, where the investigation was organised.
"We are deeply shocked by the scale of match-fixing through international gangs. We now have to do everything possible to ensure that referees, players and officials implicated face justice," Limacher told reporters.
Investigating prosecutor Andreas Bachmann said that this investigation was “just the tip of the iceberg.”
UEFA Secretary-General Gianni Infantino said in a press statement, “UEFA will be demanding the harshest of sanctions before the competent courts for any individuals, clubs or officials who are implicated in this malpractice, be it under state or sports jurisdiction.”
Ties to earlier scandals
The investigation’s findings were revealed in Bochum, in western Germany. The process started at the beginning of 2009, and included 50 inquiries in Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and the UK. On Thursday, 15 people were arrested in Germany, and nearly 1€ million euros in cash were seized.
The accused were part of an international network suspected of having paid off referees, players, trainers, and heads of championships. According to investigators, the bets involved amount to millions of euros. Most of the illicit bets were made through Chinese bookmakers.
Investigators are also looking at 32 matches in Germany, including two in the second division, three in the third, 23 games in regional leagues and two under-19 clashes.
According to the German daily Berliner Morgenpost, the head of the ring hails from Berlin, and is tied to a previous betting scandal involving Bundesliga referee Robert Hoyzer in 2004. The German premier league was spared in this newest scandal, which only involves lower tier divisions.
Hoyzer was condemned to two years and five months in prison for organised crime. The former referee admitted to taking in around 70,000 euros for manipulating matches.
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