London (Alshahid)-Hundreds of soccer matches have been fixed in a global betting scam run from Singapore, police said on Monday, in a blow to the image of the world’s most popular sport and a multi-billion dollar industry.
Over 380 international football matches in 15 countries are suspected to have been fixed, the European investigative organization Europol announced on Monday.
The suspected matches cover the Champions League, European Championship and World Cup qualifiers and matches from several European top leagues.
It took Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency that handles criminal intelligence, 18 months to complete the first cross-border investigation into match-fixing in European football.
“This is the work of an Asian crime syndicate that works with criminal networks in Europe,” said Rob Wainwright, director of Europol, at a press conference.
“It is clear that this is the biggest match-fixing case ever in Europe. We have exposed a great integrity problem in football,” Wainwright added.
A total of eight million euros ($10.8 million) would have been the gain of the match fixing, involving a total of 425 referees, players and criminals.
The biggest amount cashed by a single criminal was 140,000 euros. The researchers fear that the results are just a small part of the total scale of match fixing.
It was reported that Liverpool’s 2009 game against Debrecen of Hungary is under investigation.
There is no suggestion the Anfield club had any involvement or is suspected of any wrongdoing.
Debrecen goalkeeper Vukasin Poleksic was allegedly paid to ensure there were more than two goals in the match – something he failed to engineer.
Liverpool won the game 1-0 and had seven shots on target – including one from Fernando Torres that Poleksic palmed into the path of Dirk Kuyt for the winner.
Meanwhile, FIFA’s head of security and a former Interpol official, Ralf Mutschke, has called for harsh sentences for anyone found guilty in this match-fixing scandal.