Football: Europol investigators claimed today that over 680 football matches across the world have been fixed.
In startling revelations, European police said that 380 matches in Europe had been rigged, including a Champions League tie played in England.
They added that they had uncovered an organised crime syndicate based in Asia that was running the operation.
In addition, Europol allege that 425 match officials, club officials, players, and serious criminals from more than 15 countries are suspected of being involved in attempts to fix matches.
Following an 18-month investigation, Europol said they suspect matches that included World Cup and European Championship qualifiers, two Champions League ties and “several top football matches in European leagues.”
Fifty people have been arrested so far, but officials said they believe this is the “tip of the iceberg.”
“This is the work of a suspected organised crime syndicate based in Asia and operated with criminal networks around Europe,” Rob Wainwright, the director of Europol, said.
“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.”
Wainwright did not reveal the identity of the Champions League match staged in England under suspicion due to “ongoing judicial proceedings,” but said it had taken place in the last three to four years.
He added: “The focus has been on other countries, not the United Kingdom. However we were surprised by the scale generally of the criminal enterprise and just how widespread it was.
“It would be naive and complacent of those in the UK to think such a criminal conspiracy does not involve the English game and all the football in Europe.”
In an unusual twist, both the FA and Uefa revealed today that they were unaware of the Europol probe.
A spokesman for the Football Association said: “The FA are not aware of any credible reports into suspicious Champions League fixtures in England, nor has any information been shared with us.
“While the Champions League comes under Uefa jurisdiction, The FA, alongside the Premier League, Football League and Conference, monitor markets for the top seven leagues and three major cup competitions in England and take matters of integrity in football extremely seriously.”
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