A Singapore-based criminal group may be responsible for fixing as many as 700 professional soccer matches worldwide, including World Cup Qualifiers. That’s the conclusion of a 19-month investigation by Europol.
Of the 680 suspicious matches identified, 380 were played in Europe. What’s especially distressing to soccer fans, and punters, is that several of these matches were played on very big stages, including the Champions League; World Cup Qualifiers; Euro Cup Qualifiers. Most of the fixed games were in Turkey and Germany, though a number of other countries were mentioned in the report.
Europol, an investigative arm of the European Union, said the scheme covered 13 European countries and netted ringleaders around $10 million in profits off of $2 million in bribes to players and officials. Despite the large scale of the operation,
Investigators are pinning the blame on an unnamed crime syndicate in Singapore though, according to some reports, Russian speaking criminal gangs were also involved.
Whoever it was pulling the strings, they definitely put the “organized” back in organized crime. The group had minions throughout the world who paid off their marks up to $130,000 a pop and operated without notice for years.
While soccer has been smeared by scandals in the past this is one of the biggest and highest reaching affairs in recent memory.
At a news conference, Europol Director Rob Wainwright said:
This is a sad day for European football…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.
The investigation is considered ongoing and Wainwright added that what’s known today may be, “…just the tip of the iceberg.”
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