Sunday

21st Jan 2018

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.

Rights NGOs face fresh threats in EU

While ongoing crackdowns in Poland and Hungary have put the spotlight on rights groups, NGOs are now under new political and financial pressure across the EU, the Fundamental Rights Agency said.

News in Brief

  1. Germany confirms attendance at air quality summit
  2. Nearly half of 'fixed' Dieselgate cars show problems
  3. YouTube, Twitter, Facebook up hate speech deletion
  4. UK mulls bridge to France
  5. German far-right float anti-asylum bill
  6. EU Parliament to investigate glyphosate-decision process
  7. 'Mutagenesis' falls outside EU's GMO rules, says EU top lawyer
  8. Decision on Polish MEP's Nazi-era slur postponed

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  2. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  4. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  5. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  6. Dialogue PlatformRoundtable on "Political Islam, Civil Islam and The West" 31 January
  7. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  9. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  10. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  12. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted

Latest News

  1. Middle East, Messi and missing MEPs on the agenda This WEEK
  2. Instagram and Google Plus join EU anti-hate speech drive
  3. EU wants 'entrepreneurship' in education systems
  4. UK loses EU satellite centre to Spain
  5. Pay into EU budget for market access, Macron tells May
  6. Ethiopian regime to get EU migrants' names
  7. EU to lend Greece up to €7bn more next week
  8. Nato prepares to take in Macedonia