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|Uefa investigates 40 European games in match-fixing
| Forty Champions
League and Uefa Cup games are under investigation for suspected match-fixing,
European football's governing body revealed today.
All of the cases, 15 of which took place in the
last two years and the rest within the last four to five years, concerned early
qualifying rounds and most involved clubs from eastern Europe. Although Uefa
said it would not make public the identity of the clubs under suspicion unless
it amassed enough evidence to charge them, it is not believed that any English
clubs or big European names are involved.
Peter Limacher, the head of
disciplinary services at Uefa, said: "Right now it's mainly eastern Europe
clubs being investigated. They know they are not going to be involved later in
the tournament and they are going out, so decide, 'Let's make a profit.'
"In the cases we have seen it's
really the deliberate planned fix of the games, the whole games. First the
result at half-time, then after 90 minutes. It might take some time [to
convict] but, in cases where we can work together with the police, that might
In each case, Uefa was alerted when bookmakers reported
suspicious betting patterns. William Gaillard, senior advisor to Uefa's
president, Michel Platini, said that most cases involved clubs where players
did not earn much and so were tempted to fix results.
In March Uefa
announced a wide-ranging crackdown on corruption. It promised to work with
national associations to fund a monitoring programme across 29,000 fixtures in
the top two divisions of all 53 member countries as well as its own
Platini has made the fight against corruption a key
priority of his presidency, telling Uefa's inaugural betting and integrity
workshop in August that fixing matches "takes away their raison d'être,
deprives them of the magic of competition and is ultimately killing football".
Its new Betting Fraud Detection System, a sophisticated piece of
monitoring software operated by a team of anti-corruption officers, has been in
operation since the beginning of the season.
As happened in cricket in
the wake of high-profile match-fixing scandals in the 1990s, Uefa also resolved
to improve education programmes in order to advise young players on what to do
if they were approached by fixers or middlemen.
The issue is high on
the agenda of all sports administrators, with the rapid explosion in online
gambling, the rise of powerful betting syndicates in the Far East and the vast
range of bets now on offer all heightening the risk.
and tennis have all faced high profile allegations of match fixing in recent
years, causing some governing bodies to lobby for bookmakers to fund new
anti-corruption units to help police their sports on a global level.
Uefa announced last month that three Macedonian clubs were being
investigated after banning the former champion FK Pobeda from European
competitions for eight years.
One fixture under suspicion is FK
Milano's 12-2 aggregate defeat in July by Croatia's Slaven Koprivnika in the
second qualifying round of the Europa League, the new format for the UEFA
Cup.In 2006, Greek club Egaleo FC were fined £30,000 for "violation of
the principles of loyalty, integrity and sportsmanship" and "creating
favourable conditions for illegal betting practices" after they fielded a
weakened team in the first leg of an Intertoto Cup match.