European police say that they have uncovered an Asian betting syndicate responsible for more than 380 suspicious games, including Word Cup and European Championship qualifiers and two Champions League games, including one played in England.
Overall, Europol claim match-fixing had taken place in 15 countries with 50 people arrested to date
Rob Wainwright, director of Europol, said:
“This is the work of a suspected organised crime syndicate based in Asia and operated with criminal networks around Europe.
“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.”
Police would not reveal which Champions League game in England was under suspicion because of “ongoing judicial proceedings”, but confirmed it was played in the last three or four years.
“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 involved the English game and all the football in Europe.”
Wainwright revealed the scale of the corruption in Germany where £13.8 million was wagered on matches in the country with payments of £1.73m believed to have paid to those involved.
He said a Singapore-based criminal network was involved in the match fixing, spending up to €100,000 (£86,000) per match to bribe players and officials and refused to identify any of the suspects, players or matches involved, citing ongoing investigations.
He said while many fixed matches were already known, the Europol investigation lifted the lid on the widespread involvement or organised crime in rigging games.
“This is the first time we have established substantial evidence that organised crime is now operating in the world of football,” he said.
A UEFA spokesman confirmed they would co-operate with the investigation.
“We will be liaising with Europol in relation to any reports of match fixing in European competition.”
The spectre of fixed games is the worst nightmare for any sports league or organization. If fans ever believe what they are seing is not real, that the result has been pre-ordained, then that sports becomes professional wrestling.