Europol has recently released information about an unprecedented crime wave which has spread around Europe for quite some time. More than 50 people from Hungary, Germany, Slovenia, Austria and Finland have been captured, arrested and charged for match-fixing.
It has been reported that more than 380 games have been rigged by this criminal organization, with the help of around 420 people, which include referees, football players and managers from 15 different countries.
Besides Europe, the investigators have also found irregularities in games played in Asia, Africa and South America. It is believed that this organized crime syndicate operating in Europe has it’s roots somewhere in Asia, possibly Singapore. Reportedly, the ringleaders made $11 million in betting profits and spent $3 million to bribe players and officials.
Most of the games which raised suspicions to the Europol investigators have been played in Turkey, Germany and Switzerland between 2008 and 2011. There has also been a mention that two Champions League games have been rigged as well, out of which one was played in the UK.
This whole scheme unmasked by Europol has involved several years of digging through phone records, computer records, paper trails and around 13.000 emails with the help of the national police from all the 27 European Union countries.
Currently, people involved in match-fixing, if caught, are exposed to a very weak sentence which wouldn’t stop them from perpetrating this act in the future. Even if FIFA has the power to ban players, referees and club officials, what we really need is harsher punishments for the people outside the sport.
As Rob Wainwright stated during his press conference : “This is a sad day for European football !”