European Football Match-Fixing Ring Smashed

A criminal ring suspected of fixing 380 matches, including World Cup qualifying games, has been smashed by police in Europe.

The matches included European Championship qualifiers, two Champions League games and some top-flight matches in European national leagues.

One of the Champions League matches was played in England in the last three or four years, according to Sky sources.

Rob Wainwright, head of the European police agency Europol, said the investigation had identified about 425 corrupt officials, players and serious criminals in 15 countries.

It had uncovered "match-fixing activity on a scale we have not seen before", he said.

Most of the fixed matches were played in Turkish, German and Swiss championships, but other suspicious matches were identified in Africa, Asia and south and central America.

Inquiries found evidence that a Singapore-based crime group was spending up to 100,000 euros (£86,000) per match to bribe players and officials.

The probe uncovered 8m euros (£6.9m) in betting profits and 2m euros (£1.7m) in bribes to players and officials and has already led to several prosecutions.

Europol declined to identify any of the suspects, players or matches involved, citing the ongoing investigations.

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

"This is the first time we have established substantial evidence that organised crime is now operating in the world of football," he said, adding that there was now a "concerted effort" across the soccer world to tackle the corruption.