The sport of soccer was given another black eye on Feb. 4 when investigators announced that at least 680 games were affected by match fixing. The report, which took 19 months to put together, states that criminal groups have been able to fix the elite level of international and European soccer with hundreds of people being involved.
The investigation revealed that more than 15 different countries have had games fixed and a minimum of 425 people have been involved in the illegal activities. These include former and current players as well as club officials and referees.
It was reported that the criminal groups are mainly Asian with Singapore being a hotbed of illegal fixing. These syndicated have made many millions of dollars by wagering on results that have been manipulated across the world.
Some of the elite games that have been infiltrated include European Championship and World Cup qualifying contests, along with a pair of European Champions League showdowns.
At least one of these games took place in England, where it’s generally believed the nation is immune to illegal match-fixing. The director of Europol, which helped operate the investigation, said it’s definitely a sad day for the sport of soccer.
Europol said if the sport doesn’t do something about organized crime soon then there’s a good chance the public will eventually turn its back on it. The organization said that a total of 680 games were found to be involved with 380 of them taking place in Europe.
The rest took place in Latin America, Africa and Asia. However, none of the people and teams involved have been named due to ongoing criminal investigations by the police.
A joint investigative team was put together in the summer of 2011 after several European investigations revealed the same people were behind many of the fixed games.
The ringleader of the criminal group has been identified and there’s a warrant out for his arrest in Asia and Interpol is hoping to extradite the individual to Europe to stand trial against charges of bribery and fraud. Unconfirmed reports have pegged this person as Dan Tan of Singapore and he’s believed to have been involved in match-fixing since 1999 at least.
Previous match-fixing reports have stated that 79 games were fixed in Turkey, with 70 in Germany and 41 in Switzerland. Other nations which have suffered the problem include Canada, Austria, Croatia, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Malta and Slovenia.
Games are usually fixed when referees and players are approached with bribes and then paid off. In some case, both players and the game officials may be approached to make sure the criminals get the result they’re looking for.
The criminal organizations usually fix the margin of victory as that’s a lot easier to manipulate than the exact score of games. Most of the illegal activities also include some type of money laundering operations to help throw police off of the trail.