Corruption May Run to the Heart of Football23rd November 2009 9:25 am GMT
UEFA has vowed to go to court to seek 'the harshest of sanctions' against any individuals, clubs or officials involved in match-fixing amid rising speculation that its own representatives may have been involved in corrupting the outcome of a number of European football matches.
UEFA confirmed Friday that it has been assisting the German authorities with their investigations into corruption and match-fixing allegations relating to up to 200 matches, most of which are domestic league games in Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia, Switzerland and Turkey.
A further 12 UEFA Europa League and 3 UEFA Champions League games are also under investigation. Although UEFA has not yet confirmed which matches these investigations relate to, it did confirm that they form part of the UEFA list of 40 matches that have previously been quoted as being 'under suspicion'.
"Firstly, I would like to thank the German authorities for their action and for the good collaboration. This case proves that it is possible for a state investigative authority to work closely together with a sports governing body when it comes to corruption or match fixing, and it is gratifying to see that the Betting Fraud Detection System endorsed by the UEFA President, Michel Platini, is already bearing fruit. We will continue our battle against any form of corruption in European football with a mission of zero tolerance," said UEFA General Secretary, Gianni Infantino.
The Times newspaper has suggested that national football association and UEFA insiders aided the match-fixers by supplying them with information relating to refereeing appointments, enabling organised gangs to befriend and bribe officials to influence the outcome of games.
The European Sports Security Association (ESSA), which monitors for irregular betting activity at a number of leading European online sportsbooks, said that it has been concerned about match-fixing in football since the Hoyzer affair of 2005, a German football scandal involving referee Robert Hoyzer, and has offered to support the German investigation into match-fixing allegations.
"We welcome the actions taken by UEFA and the German authorities to crackdown on match-fixing and are willing to offer our full cooperation and assistance in their ongoing investigation" said Khalid Ali, Secretary General of ESSA. "Our head bookmaker was instrumental in advising the German Football Association in 2005 when the Hoyzer affair broke and we are ready to work hand in hand with the German authorities again to safeguard the integrity of football" said Ali.
A total of 17 people have already been arrested as part of the investigation across four countries with over €1 million seized, however authorities warn that this represents 'the tip of the iceberg' with up to 200 individuals including 32 players believed to be under suspicion.