The Hague, Feb 4: A massive match-fixing investigation has found over 680 matches, including those in World Cup and European Championship qualifiers and two Champions League games, to be suspicious and accused a Singapore-based crime group of involvement in match-fixing, Europol said on Monday.
The probe carried out by Europol, the European Union's joint police body, said that 380 of the suspicious matches were played in Europe while 300 were played in Africa, Asia and South and Central America.
Describing the day as a sad one for European soccer, Europol head Rob Waineright said the criminals were cashing in on the corruption on a scale and way that threatens the very fabric of soccer. He claimed the Singapore-based group spent up to $136,500 per match to bribe players and officials.
Wainwright would brief UEFA president Michel Platini about Europol's findings, it was said.
Europol, however, did not name suspects, players, clubs or officials so that the investigation was not affected. It was also not clear if any of the matches mentioned were previously known to have been tainted. The investigation revealed 10.9 million in betting profits and $2.7 million in bribes to players and officials and has already led to a number of prosecutions.
Sources said those numbers are much lesser than many estimates of the amount of cash which is actually involved in match-fixing. Europol sleuths analysed 13,000 emails and other evidence and identified 425 individuals suspected of being involved in manipulating matches.
It can be mentioned here that FIFA general secretary Jerome Valcke termed match-fixing as a disease in an interview last month. He said it just weeks after 41 South Korean players were banned for life after they were found guilty of prearranging matches.