Soccer probe finds 425 people, 680 matches suspect

DAVID JOLLY

Criminal organisations have infiltrated the highest levels of European and international soccer, threatening the very integrity of the sport, global law enforcement officials said Monday as they unveiled the results of a 19-month investigation that showed hundreds of people involved in match-fixing.

At least 425 people from more than 15 countries — including club and match officials, current and former players — are suspected of conspiring to fix hundreds of matches on behalf of Asian criminal syndicates, which made millions of dollars by betting on the results, they said.

Those matches included qualifying games for both the World Cup and European Cup, and two Champions League matches, including one in England.

"This is a sad day for European football, and more evidence of the corrupting influence of organised crime," said Rob Wainwright, the director of Europol, which helped coordinate the investigation among European Union member states, Interpol and non-European nations.

In all, 680 matches have been identified as suspect, officials said, including 300 outside Europe, primarily in Asia, Africa and Latin America. It was not immediately clear how many of the matches identified were already known to the public.

Officials declined to identify any of the teams or individuals involved in the investigations, citing the need to guard the confidentiality of police procedures.

The officials, speaking to journalists at Europol headquarters, said that a joint team was created in July 2011 following the realisation by German prosecutors that there was a major overlap between suspects in their own match-fixing probe and suspects identified in a separate investigation by the Italian police.

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