Tuesday, February 5th 2013 - 02:08 UTC

Widespread football match fixing and criminal network uncovered by Europol

A major investigation involving Europol and police teams from 13 European countries has uncovered an extensive criminal network involved in widespread football match-fixing. A total of 425 match officials, club officials, players, and serious criminals, from more than 15 countries, are suspected of being involved in attempts to fix more than 380 professional football matches.

Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol will be sharing the results of the investigation with UEFA President Platini

The activities formed part of a sophisticated organised crime operation, which generated over €8 million in betting profits and involved over €2 million in corrupt payments to those involved in the matches.

The Joint Investigation Team (JIT), codenamed Operation VETO, ran between July 2011 and January 2013. Led by Europol, Germany, Finland, Hungary, Austria and Slovenia, it was also supported by Eurojust, Interpol and investigators from eight other European countries. The investigation coordinated multiple police enquiries across Europe and was facilitated by intelligence reports from Europol, based on the analysis of 13,000 emails and other material, which identified links between matches and suspects and uncovered the nature of the organised crime network behind the illegal activities. The investigation has since led to several prosecutions in the countries involved, including Germany where 14 persons have already been convicted and sentenced to a total of 39 years in prison.

“This is a sad day for European football and more evidence of the corrupting influence in society of organised crime. But this investigation also proves the value of international police cooperation in fighting back against the criminals involved. Europol and its law enforcement partners are committed to pursuing serious criminals wherever they operate. Unfortunately this also now includes the world of football, where illegal profits are made on a scale and in a way that threatens the very fabric of the game. All those responsible for running football should heed the warnings found in this case,” says Rob Wainwright, Director of Europol. He also confirmed that he will be sharing the results of the investigation with UEFA President, Michel Platini.

Among the 380 or more suspicious matches identified by this case are World Cup and European Championship qualification matches, two UEFA Champions League matches and several top-flight matches in European national leagues. In addition another 300 suspicious matches were identified outside Europe, mainly in Africa, Asia, South and Central America.

“We have evidence for 150 of these cases and the operations were run out of Singapore with bribes of up to 100 000 euros paid per match. Even two World Championship Qualification matches in Africa, and one in Central America, are under suspicion,” says Fridhelm Althans from Bochum Police, Germany, and a spokesman for JIT Veto.

This information will be shared with Interpol for further action in the context of its long-term efforts to work with a broad community around the world to crack down on this problem.

“Match fixing is a global issue requiring strong partnerships at the national, regional and international levels not only to target and dismantle the criminal networks making millions in illicit profits, but also to implement training programs to better protect all those involved in football,” said Mr Gianni Baldi, Head of Interpol’s Drugs and Organized Crime Unit.

The organised criminal group behind most of these activities has been betting primarily on the Asian market. The ringleaders are of Asian origin, working closely together with European facilitators. During the investigation, links were also found to Russian-speaking and other criminal syndicates.

The international nature of match-fixing, exposed in this case, presents a major challenge to investigators and prosecutors. One fixed match can involve up to 50 suspects in 10 countries, spanning different legal frameworks and definitions of match-fixing and betting fraud.

Ms Michèle Coninsx, President of Eurojust, commented: “International cooperation was the key to the success of this challenging cross-border case, involving more than 30 countries. Coordination meetings at Eurojust, including video conferences with Asian counterparts, facilitated the opening of new investigations and the resolution of complex judicial issues. Eurojust provided access to funding for JIT Veto, one of the largest JITs in history.” The successful outcome of JIT Veto proves both the added value of Eurojust and the JIT Funding Project, which in 2012 financed 62 different JITs involving 22 Member States.

13 comments Feed

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1 Nostrolldamus the 8th (#) Feb 05th, 2013 - 02:35 am Report abuse
Between the Germans corrupt max fixing, the Italian league mafia ties, the English leagues barbaric hooligans, and the Spanish league's financial inequality... wow, what a great example, European football... NOT!

But it's a true reflection of the culture of the continent: corrupt, criminal, violent, and unequal.

Thankfully I'm Argentine.
2 expbrit (#) Feb 05th, 2013 - 04:50 am Report abuse

This isn't just about European soccer, Argentina is already under investigation.
3 Ayayay (#) Feb 05th, 2013 - 05:23 am Report abuse
What's soccer?
4 Marcos Alejandro (#) Feb 05th, 2013 - 05:33 am Report abuse
A sock game?
5 agent999 (#) Feb 05th, 2013 - 07:46 am Report abuse
Europol showed television coverage of a suspect match, an international between Argentina and Bolivia, during which a referee awarded a highly dubious penalty.
6 Frank (#) Feb 05th, 2013 - 08:05 am Report abuse
@1 'Between the Germans, the Italian(s) , English , the Spanish '

Sounds like argentina in a nutshell.....
7 Anglotino (#) Feb 05th, 2013 - 08:15 am Report abuse
So glad that the “World Game” is relegated to 4th most attended game on averafe in Australia. That is out of 4 codes!

Aussie Rules is home grown and might not be played or known much outside of Australia but is almost a religion here. As I was interested to learn today when this news hit, our Grand Final last year boasted the largest crowd for any final in the world.

Bigger than the World Cup, Superbowl, FA Cup and Copa Libertadores.

Not bad for a game invented in my home town.

Keep ya soccer, c'arn the Bombers!
8 Orbit (#) Feb 05th, 2013 - 08:57 am Report abuse
Nostro, do me a favour and when you go back to high school this term, join the debating society. You may learn that sweeping generalisations open you up to at best being soundly beaten in a debate, at worst open yourself to ridicule.

Perhaps you would like to comment on this article. Have things improved since 2011? Difficult to think they would have but I am open to hear otherwise.

9 expbrit (#) Feb 05th, 2013 - 09:06 am Report abuse
@3 It's just some silly, mainly pointless game played by a bunch of poofters who fall down every time an opposition player comes within spitting distance.
10 ElaineB (#) Feb 05th, 2013 - 12:58 pm Report abuse
@9 LOL, rugby supporter?

Have some sympathy for TTT. He came to this forum all full of bravado, testosterone and misinformation fed to him from birth. He is like a child learning there is no Santa Claus and is having a tantrum, lashing out and having to come to terms with the fact that everything he thought was true about his country is a big fat lie. Notice how he has distanced himself from Argentina as a country and now only associates himself with Mendoza? Classic.

Pity the child.
11 screenname (#) Feb 05th, 2013 - 01:21 pm Report abuse
@7 Anglotino


Funny guy

@1 nutjob the 1st: I'n normally wuld not bother with this news channel, but you Argentinian posters seem to think it is fair:


and one of you clubs (San Lorenzo) has just been caught trying to tap a player up from the English league, but didn't want to even pay a transfer fee.

Contracts and illegal moves for players mean nothing in Argentina? Why does it not surprise me.
12 Shed-time (#) Feb 05th, 2013 - 01:43 pm Report abuse
@3 Association Football or 'soccer' is a rudimentary game played by poor people, and watched by poor people who cannot tell the difference between 'a sports club' and a money making 'entertainment company'. The poor people spend upwards of 90% of their benefits going to the game at £60 a ticket and buy the kit-du-week at £50 (multiply by 4 for a family). This often results in them being maintained in a perpetual state of poverty, having no money left for self-betterment of any kind.

The game consists of watching 11 fashion models run aimlessly around a pitch for 90 minutes, at which point a pre-decided result will be announced and the poor people will find they lost a sizeable bet that they put on their company winning. The poor people then have a fight outside the premises of the football entertainment company where the sides are decided by which football company you fund and policing the fight is paid for by non-football company supporters who aren't poor.

Then the poor people go home and reinforce the fact that the only way their daughter 'posh' can become anything is for her to become a singer on a TV talent show, or their son 'becks' can only become anything if he becomes one of the mindless fashion models who runs around the soccer pitch. This is because they just donated all their money to a football company.

This whole process is repeated week-upon-week, only paused for a two week period that they spend in Spain eating fish-and-chips and discussing in English how foreigners in the UK don't speak English.

Does this answer your question?
13 expbrit (#) Feb 06th, 2013 - 01:32 am Report abuse
@10 Go the All Blacks!! Champions of the World :-)

@12 Couldn't have put it better myself.

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