Match-fixing is not a major problem says Europol

Nine investigations being worked on by anti-crime agency

Uefa president Michel Platini (left) believes that match-fixing is the scourge of soccer. Photograph: Lars Baron/Getty Images

Uefa president Michel Platini (left) believes that match-fixing is the scourge of soccer. Photograph: Lars Baron/Getty Images

 

Match-fixing is not a major problem in European soccer despite recent high-profile cases, Europol said on Tuesday.

The anti-crime agency has signed a co-operation agreement with the sport’s European governing body Uefa to deal with the issue of fixing.

“I still don’t think it’s a major problem in European football, not from what I see,” Rob Wainwright, director of the European anti-crime agency, told reporters at Uefa headquarters.

“But we are sending a message that we want to make sure it doesn’t become one.”

Wainwright revealed that Europol was working on nine investigations into match-fixing, but he declined to go into detail.

Last year, Wainwright said that hundreds of soccer matches had been fixed in a global betting scam run from Singapore.

He said about 680 suspicious matches had been identified by European police forces and Europol, including qualifying games for the World Cup and European Championship, and the Champions League.

Uefa says it monitors around 32,000 professional games in European club competition and national leagues each year for suspicious betting patterns that could indicate a match has been manipulated.

“It (match-fixing) is the scourge of football because we are talking about the soul of the sport,” said Uefa president Michel Platini.

Austria, Italy, Croatia, Turkey, Finland, Estonia, England, Czech Republic and Slovakia ar among European countries to have been hit by match-fixing in recent years.

In Italy, dozens of players have been suspended and a number of clubs have had points deducted over attempts to manipulate matches in Serie B and its third tier, Lega Pro, during the 2010/11 season.

In another high-profile case, Fenerbahce were banned from European soccer for two seasons last June for their involvement in a domestic match-fixing scandal, while compatriots Besiktas were given a one-season ban.

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