x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Match-fixing investigation in football expands

German prosecutors reveal increase in games being examined for manipulation with eight suspects in detention.

BERLIN // An investigation into suspected football match-fixing now covers 270 matches in several countries and more than 250 people, German prosecutors said yesterday. Prosecutors in Bochum first announced the investigation last November, saying at the time that about 200 games and 200 people were under suspicion - prompting a Uefa official to say it was probably the biggest match-fixing scandal in Europe. In yesterday's update, they said that investigations so far have allowed suspicions of match-fixing to be "further substantiated".

They suspect that some ?1.5 million (Dh6.96m) was paid in bribes to referees, players and others and that profits from manipulated bets amounted to ?7.5m, according to a statement. The total value of bets placed on matches that may have been manipulated is believed to be about ?12m. Those numbers are likely to rise because investigations to date indicate that many people were used to place bets with different bookmakers across Europe in order to cover up the suspects' activities, prosecutors said.

They added that, for example, some 6,000 bets with a total value of ?32.5m via a single Asian bookmaker in Britain, which was not identified, could be attributed to the group under suspicion. Not all those bets were on suspect matches. The investigation now covers 53 matches in Germany, 19 in Belgium, 35 in Switzerland, 15 in Croatia, seven in Slovenia, 74 in Turkey, 14 in Hungary; eight in Bosnia, 12 in Austria and 33 games in international competitions.

Prosecutors did not name specific matches and also did not identify any of the people under investigation. Eight people remain in detention awaiting charges in Germany, prosecutors said. So far, they added, there have been three arrests in Switzerland, 22 in Croatia and about 70 in Turkey. "The extremely complex investigations will take a long time yet," prosecutors said, although they added that authorities expect to start filing charges "shortly".

"All relevant information" is being exchanged with other countries involved, such as Belgium, Slovenia, Hungary, Bosnia, Austria and Britain, they said. The prosecutors' office in Bochum is Germany's leading authority on fighting corruption and fraud. * AP