Five European soccer teams named in match-fixing probe

Five clubs in Albania, Latvia, Slovenia and Hungary are suspected in European soccer's biggest match-fixing investigation.

The European soccer governing body identified the clubs as KF Tirana, FC Dinaburg, KS Vilaznia, NK IB Llubljana and Honved on Wednesday. They allegedly fixed seven qualifying round games in the Champions League and Europa League between July 16 and Aug. 6.

UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino described match-fixing as a “cancer we need to eradicate.” He said the seven matches were among 40 in continental club competitions previously identified as being under suspicion.

About 200 suspicious matches are being investigated in a criminal probe led from Bochum, Germany.

Infantino said UEFA opened its own investigation into the activities of three referees and one official connected to UEFA. No member of UEFA's administrative staff is suspected, he said.

“We don't know if this is the end of the story,” Infantino said.

UEFA officials met Wednesday with national association leaders from the nine countries — Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia, Switzerland and Turkey — to share information about the investigation.

“At the start people were certainly shocked about the magnitude (of the scandal),” Infantino said after the three-hour summit at UEFA headquarters. “At the end of the meeting there was much more reassurance because we are working together.”

UEFA is cooperating with the Bochum prosecutor's office, which has targeted domestic league matches across nine countries. German-based betting syndicates are suspected of bribing players, coaches, referees and other officials to fix games. The suspected leaders are believed to have made at least $15 million, authorities say.

Police arrested 15 people in Germany last week, including Ante Sapina, a Croatian national who was convicted in Germany's match-fixing scandal in 2005 that involved referee Robert Hoyzer. Another man was arrested in Croatia on Tuesday.

UEFA will ask for access to the criminal case files and agreed with its nine national members not to disclose details of matches and people under suspicion.

Belgian FA general secretary Jean-Marie Philips said he has confidence in UEFA's handling of the investigation. In a joint statement, UEFA promised strong action against any player, referee or club official implicated.

“He will be out of football, this is very, very clear,” Infantino said.

SC Verl, a fourth-tier German team, said Wednesday it has suspended two players suspected of manipulating two games. The players have not admitted to any wrongdoing.

A third player suspected in the match-fixing is no longer with the club, according to Verl president Jochen Scholz.

Swiss second-division clubs Gossau and Thun have both suspended a player who was questioned by police.

UEFA said soccer authorities would work with state justice departments to share information and file criminal complaints, acknowledging that its investigative powers could not tackle organized crime.

UEFA routinely monitors Europe's top divisions and domestic cup competitions for evidence of suspicious betting patterns.

Peter Limacher, its head of disciplinary service, said the betting fraud detection system had been widened across Europe in July and helped make the investigations possible.

Other Sportssports

Just Posted

On Sunday, California bore the brunt of what meteorologists referred to as a bomb cyclone and an atmospheric river, a convergence of storms that brought more than half a foot of rain to parts of the Bay Area, along with high winds, concerns about flash floods and the potential for heavy snow in the Sierra Nevada. Much of the Bay Area was under a flash flood watch on Sunday, with the National Weather Service warning of the potential for mudslides across the region. (NOAA via The New York Times)
Bomb cyclone, atmospheric river combine to pummel California with rain and wind

What you need to know about this historic weather event

National Weather Service flood watch in the San Francisco Bay Area for Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021. (National Weather Service via Bay City News)
Storm pounds Bay Area, leaving over 145,000 without power: Closures and updates

Torrential rainfall causes flooding, triggers evacuations in burn areas

Plan Bay Area 2050 is an expansive plan guiding the region’s growth and development over the next three decades. The regional plan addresses progressive policy priorities like a universal basic income and a region-wide rent cap, alongside massive new spending on affordable housing and transportation infrastructure. (Shutterstock)
Plan Bay Area 2050: Analyzing an extensive regional plan that covers the next 30 years

Here are the big ticket proposals in the $1.4 trillion proposal

A collaborative workspace for a decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) in Coordinape is pictured at a recent blockchain meet up at Atlas Cafe. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
Business without bosses: San Francisco innovators battle bureaucracy with blockchain

‘The next generation will work for three DAOs at the same time’

Most Read