European tie in England fixed, say Europol


Soccer:Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, this afternoon claimed that a Champions League tie played in England sometime in the last four years had been fixed.

The Europol chief, Rob Wainwright, however, could not reveal the identity of the game in question because it is currently subject to “ongoing judicial proceedings”.

Speaking in The Hague, Wainwright said that an 18-month long Europol investigation had identified 380 fixed matches across Europe, involving 425 match officials, players, club officials and suspected criminals.

Furthermore, he suggested that an Asia-based, organised crime syndicate had co-ordinated the match manipulation.

Claiming that the Europol investigation might have touched just “the tip of the iceberg”, Wainwright said that the investigation had uncovered match-fixing in 15 countries, leading to the arrests of 50 people so far.

"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.”

For some time now, experts have argued that match fixing is a 360 degree phenomenon, present not only in Asian, East European and Mediterranean countries but also in allegedly “squeaky clean” northern European countries such as Germany and Finland.

Wainright confirmed that analysis, admitting that his investigative team had been surprised “by the scale generally of the criminal enterprise and just how widespread it was”.

In that context, it would be “naive and complacent” for anyone to imagine that the English game will not be touched by such a powerful criminal conspiracy, he said.

Thus, World Cup and European Championship qualifiers, two Champions League ties and several top league games had featured in the enquiry, the results of which will be passed onto Uefa, the European football authority.

Europol's investigation, which also uncovered approx €8 million worth of gambling profits for various syndicates, confirms the recent findings of both Interpol and of world governing body Fifa.

Last month, Fifa head of security, Ralf Mutschke, a former policeman with 33 years experience in the German police force, told Reuters that he believed that at least 50 leagues around the world are being targeted by organised crime syndicates.

Mutschke said that one of his inside informers had told him that many organised crime units were now moving out of the drugs trade and into match-fixing because it represents lower risk, higher profit and a perfect vehicle for money-laundering.

At a news conference in Rome last month, the Secretary General of Interpol, Ron Noble, said that some of the syndicates generate revenues equivalent to that of a huge multinational company.

He suggested that the syndicates were operative worldwide, from Asia to Europe to North and South America.

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