Singapore sleaze or the match-fixing allegations outlined by Europol’s 18-month investigation into a rampant betting scam has opened a book on the seedy side of football, the so-called beautiful game.
The scale is unprecedented, Initially the probe looked into scams in Germany, Finland, Hungary, Slovenia and Austria.
The net then widened to include 680 matches in 30 countries.
Europol has identified 425 suspects, so far 50 people have been arrested and 80 search warrants issued.
The whole criminal venture is alleged to begin with a suspected syndicate based in Singapore, which then fans out across the globe to involve match officials, club officials, players and gangsters.
Most of the matches in the fix include the lower leagues in Turkey, Switzerland and Germany.
Rob Wainwright is a Europol Director:
“I think this is a sad day for European football. We have known for some time that organised crime operates in many parts of an illegal economy, and that it affects the society and citizens in very many different ways, this is the first time that we’ve established substantial evidence that organised crime is now also operating in the world of football.”
Liverpool’s 2009 Champions League Group stage win over Debrecen from Hungary is under investigation, but no blame is attached to Liverpool.
A number of journalists have identified the alleged “Mr Fixit” in Singapore one, Dan Tan, who police in Finland, Germany Hungary and Italy want to talk to.
Dan Tan has not been arrested or charged with any offence in Singapore.
This attack on a shared, unifying culture is a dangerous business; if trust is lost then it is the sewer for sport.
Sarah Lacarriere is from the Institute of International Relations in Lausanne, Switzerland, she contributed to the paper ‘Sporting Bets and Corruption: How to Preserve the Integrity of Sport.’
She spoke to euronews reporter Slimane Yacini:
“Europol’s investigation has uncovered the existence of hundreds of tainted matches across the globe, including Champions League fixtures is it possible that this competition has been compromised?”
“Well Europol conducted its investigations, which stemmed from a probe into Bochum in Germany, which found matches were rigged, not Champions League matches, but domestic fixtures targeted by criminals. So yes, clearly matches have been fixed.”
“Should we really be surprised by these revelations?”
“What is new is the number of people involved, over 400 from all levels of the game, players and officials and of course organised crime. Sporting bodies like UEFA cooperate with the authorities as we have seen with Bochum. So there is no surprise. The extent is the surprise.”
“Has the integrity of football been undermined by these findings?”
“Don’t be alarmist, not every game is fixed, what is alarming are the diverse number of actors involved, especially criminals. As we have seen from the Europol probe and recent scandals in Italy ,it stems from organised crime in Asia with links to the Balkan mafia.”
“Exactly, the investigation looks at betting, is it a lack of supervision or just a lack on controls on betting?”
“There is an illegal market that has grown using new techniques. It is powered by the visibility of sporting events of all kinds, football in particular and other sports, tennis, cricket etc:Competitions are becoming increasingly something to bet on, that includes illegal betting. Controls must be tightened up and cooperation between authorities and governments improved.”
“Why is football without an anti-corruption organisation similar to the World Anti-Doping Agency, for example.”
“It is a fact that human resources and hardware are being directed at this problem and then we shall see how sports resources are pooled to fight against this scourge. All the stakeholders must be engaged, including the bookmakers, they play a key role, they are responsible for their business. The initiatives currently being undertaken by the Council of Europe can help in that regard.”