Saturday

18th Nov 2017

EU police agency uncovers football-fixing ring

A "sophisticated organised crime operation" stretching all the way to Asia bribed officials and rigged over 380 football matches in Europe, generating some €8 million in profit, EU's police agency (Europol) has uncovered.

“This is a sad day for European football and more evidence of the corrupting influence in society of organised crime," Europol chief Rob Wainwright said Monday (4 February) in the Hague.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Over 380 European matches were rigged, says Europol (Photo: wikipedia)

He said the sheer size of the illegal profits "threatens the very fabric of the game". A total of 425 football officials, players and serious criminals from more than 15 countries are suspected of being involved. Some €2 million were paid out in bribes.

Europol said it used intelligence from 13,000 emails connecting the dots between suspects and establishing the links with organised crime networks in Asia. Several prosecutions have already started, with 14 people convicted in Germany.

Among the 380 rigged matches in Europe between 2008 and 2011 are World Cup and European Championship qualification matches, two UEFA Champions League matches and several top-flight matches in European national leagues. Another 300 suspicious matches were identified outside Europe, mainly in Africa, Asia, South and Central America.

“We have evidence for 150 of these cases and the operations were run out of Singapore with bribes of up to €100,000 paid per match. Even two World Championship Qualification matches in Africa, and one in Central America, are under suspicion,” a German police officer present at the briefing said Monday.

The organised criminal group behind most fixed matches has been betting primarily on the Asian market, Europol says. The ringleaders are of Asian origin, working closely together with European facilitators. During the investigation, links were also found to Russian-speaking and other criminal syndicates.

Europol would not name any individual clubs, but its chief said "it would be naive and complacent to think" that no English clubs were involved.

A Danish football club, Vestsjaelland FC, has meanwhile been suspended for six months from the national league as a consequence of the Europol probe. One of its players, Kristoffer Wichmann, is accused of having placed bets on the outcome of his club's games. Wichmann denies the charges.

Meanwhile, Fifa, the global football association, has called for tougher prison sentences for those convicted of match-fixing. Fifa can impose lifelong bans for players, but "for people outside of football, the custodial sentences are too weak, and offer little to deter someone from getting involved in match-fixing," Ralf Mutschke, Fifa's head of security and a former Interpol official told The Guardian.

Spain's football clubs cause stir in Germany

In a sign of how much EU states influence one another’s affairs in the current eurozone crisis, Spain pulled back from allowing debt relief to its football clubs in reaction to German disapproval.

MEPs point finger at Malta

The European Parliament debated shady deals and rule of law in Malta after the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, while the Commission wanted to avoid a "political fight".

Austrian privacy case against Facebook hits legal snag

Austrian privacy campaigner Max Schrems may sue Facebook Ireland in an Austrian court but won't be able to pursue a class action suit in Austria, according to a non-binding opinion by a top EU court advisor.

EU Parliament 'cookie' restrictions worry online media

The European Parliament and groups representing newspapers and magazines are at odds over how new privacy rules will affect the media, especially restrictions on website cookies - but one MEP thinks it could spark new business models.

MEPs ponder how to fight tax havens

After the Paradise Papers brought new revelations about tax dodging across the globe, including in the EU, the European Parliament wonders how to step up the fight.

MEPs point finger at Malta

The European Parliament debated shady deals and rule of law in Malta after the murder of Daphne Caruana Galizia, while the Commission wanted to avoid a "political fight".

News in Brief

  1. Bonn climate talks extend into Friday evening
  2. UK needs to move on Brexit by early December, Tusk says
  3. Puigdemont extradition decision postponed to December
  4. Ireland wants written UK guarantees to avoid hard border
  5. US did not obstruct climate talks, says German minister
  6. EU signs social declaration
  7. Puigdemont to be heard by Belgian judges
  8. Steep fall in migrants reaching EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  2. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic countries prioritise fossil fuel subsidy reform
  4. Mission of China to the EUNew era for China brings new opportunities to all
  5. ACCASmall and Medium Sized Practices Must 'Offer the Whole Package'
  6. UNICEFAhead of the African Union - EU Summit, Survey Highlights Impact of Conflict on Education
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Calls for Closer Co-Operation on Foreign Policy
  8. Swedish EnterprisesTrilogue Negotiations - Striking the Balance Between Transparency and Efficiency
  9. Access EuropeProspects for US-EU Relations Under the Trump Administration - 28 November 2017
  10. World Vision20 November: Exchange of Views at the EP on Children Affected by the Syria Crisis
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable Growth the Nordic Way: Climate Solutions for a Sustainable Future
  12. EU2017EEHow Data Fuels Estonia's Economy

Latest News

  1. EU keeps former Soviet states at arm's length
  2. EU leaders make pledge on social issues after populist backlash
  3. EU agencies and eastern neighbours This WEEK
  4. Germany slams Dutch call for more ambitious EU climate goal
  5. Mind the gap: inequality in our cities
  6. Climate activists 'disappointed' with EU at climate talks
  7. Davis outlines UK vision on Brexit in Berlin
  8. German coalition talks in near collapse