We’re barely past the second month of 2013 and already, another potentially devastating match-fixing allegation is being dropped on the game football. But unlike past investigations, this one looks to be of massive scale that includes well over 380 suspected matches including those from the highest level of competitive football: the World Cup.
Yes, it appears that shit has finally hit the fan.
Speaking in The Hague earlier this week, Rob Wainwright, the head of the European Union police organization Europal, the kind of match-fixing activity uncovered in this investigation is of unprecendented scale, the likes of which nobody has ever seen before. Echoing Wainwright’s words, “this is a sad day for European football”.
In addition to suspected World Cup qualifiers that involved match-fixing, the investigation also discovered that European Championship qualifiers were also compromised, as were a pair of Champions League games. Forget about match-fixing scandals in Italy, Turkey, or Greece. The mere fact that Europol is pointing to World Cup and Euro qualifiers, as well as Champions League matches, suggests that even the best players in the world have also been cast under the ignominious spotlight of match-fixing.
Equally alarming is Europol’s discovery that a Singapore-based crime group is closely involved in the match-fixing, providing credence to the alarming fear that this epidemic has gone global. “This is the work of a suspected organized crime syndicate based in Asia and operated with criminal networks around Europe,” he said.
Since the investigation is still on-going, Europol is still keeping the identity of those involved, be it the players and the matches, a tight-lipped secret. The organization did say that investigations have already yielded almost $11 million in betting profits as well as around $2.7 million in bribes given to players and officials. The Singapore-based crime network is also alleged to have spent in excess of $136,000 per match to bribe players and officials.
The staggering numbers released by Europol in their investigation – 380 matches! – is alarming enough in its won right, not to mention the levels of top-flight football that this problem has infiltrated. But to hear the guy say that this is the first time they’ve “established substantial evidence that organized crime is now operating in the world of football” is the kind of deflating news that can potentially sully what’s supposed to be a beautiful sport.
Just imagining the names that are potentially involved is, in it of itself, cause for serious concern.