Article published on the 2009-11-21 Latest update 2009-11-21 14:28 TU
European football was trying to recover from one of the continent’s worst cases of match fixing on Saturday. German prosecutors said they were investigating more than 200 matches, across nine countries.
The announcement on Friday alleged that players, coaches, referees and officials were bribed to influence matches for a betting ring.
Games including Champions League ties, Europa League matches and under-21 European championship qualifiers were all implicated in the investigation.
“Its very good news that someone is finally taking a strong stance against it,” Declan Hill, author of The Fix – Soccer and Organised Crime, told RFI. “I’m glad to see that there’s finally some teeth and vigour going into protecting a sport that we all love so much.”
Police carried out more than 50 raids on Thursday and seized more than a million euros in cash, and property.
Hill thinks the scandal could extend further, “I would be very, very strong in warning authorities in both Spain and UK that they should not be asleep at the wheel.”
It is thought the gang could have earned as much as 10 million euros with bookmakers in Europe and Asia, with many bets placed in China.
“I was in Asia three weeks ago, talking to bookmakers and fixers there, they were telling me that they had contacts in the English Premier League, they were talking to people, helping them to place their bets, getting information from them,” says Hill, a graduate of Oxford University. “Their presence is certainly very strong there.”
UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino said Europe’s football governing body would be, “demanding the harshest of sanctions”, while Hill believes, “there should be lifetime bans”.