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Europol launches probe into criminal match-fixing covering 380 games

Europol today launched the "biggest-ever investigation into suspected match-fixing in Europe" in which 425 match officials, club officials, players and criminals are suspected of being involved.

An unnamed Champions League fixture in England is one of 380 matches across the continent investigators believe was fixed by an Asia-based crime syndicate, along with World Cup and European Championship qualifiers and "several top football matches in European leagues".

Rob Wainwright, director of Europol - the European Union's law enforcement agency, said at a press conference in The Hague: "This is the work of a suspected organised crime syndicate based in Asia and operated with criminal networks around Europe.

"It is clear to us this is the biggest-ever investigation into suspected match-fixing in Europe. It has yielded major results which we think have uncovered a big problem for the integrity of football in Europe.

"We have uncovered an extensive criminal network."

Wainwright revealed the scale of the corruption in Germany where £13.8 million was wagered on matches in the country with payments of £1.73m believed to have paid to those involved.

Overall, Europol claim match-fixing had taken place in 15 countries with 50 people arrested to date.

Wainwright would not reveal the identity of the Champions League match staged in the UK under suspicion due to "ongoing judicial proceedings" - he did confirm it had taken place in the last three to four years - and admitted it was not a country under particular scrutiny.

He added: "The focus has been on other countries, not the United Kingdom. However we were surprised by the scale generally of the criminal enterprise and just how widespread it was.

"It would be naive and complacent of those in the UK to think such a criminal conspiracy does not involve the English game and all the football in Europe."

A UEFA spokesman confirmed they would co-operate with the investigation.

He said: "We will be liaising with Europol in relation to any reports of match fixing in European competition."

UEFA stressed it had a zero-tolerance approach to match-fixing.

It added in a statement: "UEFA is aware of the statements made by Europol regarding the alleged match-fixing that has taken place in various football competitions and expects to receive further information in the coming days.

"As part of the fight against the manipulation of matches, UEFA is already co-operating with the authorities on these serious matters as part of its zero-tolerance policy towards match-fixing in our sport.

"Once the details of these investigations are in UEFA's hands, then they will be reviewed by the appropriate disciplinary bodies in order that the necessary measures are taken."

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