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Published: Monday, 2/4/2013

Euro match-fixing probe uncovers more than 380 suspicious soccer games

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Britain's Rob Wainwright, second from left, director of the European police agency Europol, elaborates on findings of a probe into match fixing during a press conference in The Hague, Netherlands. Britain's Rob Wainwright, second from left, director of the European police agency Europol, elaborates on findings of a probe into match fixing during a press conference in The Hague, Netherlands.
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THE HAGUE, Netherlands — A wide-ranging match-fixing investigation has uncovered more than 380 suspicious matches — including World Cup and European Championship qualifiers and two Champions League games — and found evidence that a Singapore-based crime group is closely involved in match-fixing.

"This is a sad day for European football," Rob Wainwright, head of the European Union police organization Europol, said Monday, referring to the sport Americans call soccer. He said the investigation uncovered "match-fixing activity on a scale we have not seen before."

The probe uncovered €8 million ($10.9 million) in betting profits and €2 million ($2.7 million) in bribes to players and officials and has already led to several prosecutions.

Wainwright said the involvement of organized crime "highlights a big problem for the integrity of football in Europe."

He said a Singapore-based criminal network was involved in the match fixing, spending up to €100,000 ($136,500) per match to bribe players and officials.

It was not immediately clear how many of the matches mentioned Monday have been revealed in previous match-fixing investigations in countries including Germany and Italy.

Wainwright and other officials and prosecutors declined to identify any of the suspects, players or matches involved, citing their ongoing investigations.

He said while many fixed matches were already known, the Europol investigation lifted the lid on the widespread involvement or organized crime in rigging games.

"This is the first time we have established substantial evidence that organized crime is now operating in the world of football," he said.

Wainwright said there is now a "concerted effort" across the soccer world to tackle the corruption.



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