Police in Singapore are cooperating with a European law enforcement investigation into the attempted fixing of 680 professional soccer matches.
Europol said two days ago a Singapore-based operation tried to fix games across the continent, including World Cup and European Championship qualifiers, to generate more than 8 million euros ($10.9 million) in profit. An 18-month investigation, Operation VETO, found 425 match officials, club executives, players and criminals in 15 countries worked to cheat in more than 380 matches.
“We are working with the overseas authorities,” Ho Yenn Dar, assistant director of media relations at the Singapore Police Force, told reporters in the city-state today, declining to comment if any individuals are being investigated, charged or arrested by local or overseas authorities. “We are also working with local authorities like Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau in such cases.”
The probe has led to several prosecutions, including 14 people in Germany being convicted and sentenced to 39 years in prison, according to Europol.
World Cup and European Championship qualifiers, two Champions League matches and several top-flight games in European national leagues were among the suspicious matches identified, Europol said. Another 300 outside Europe, mainly in Africa, Asia, and South and Central America, may also have been targeted.
The Singapore police force said in an e-mailed statement late yesterday that it’s assisting European authorities with the match-fixing syndicate that “purportedly involves Singaporeans.”
“Singapore takes a strong stance against match-fixing and is committed to working with international enforcement agencies to bring down transnational criminal syndicates, including those that involve the acts of Singaporeans overseas, and protect the integrity of the sport,” according to the statement.
Hungarian club Debrecen said yesterday that its 2009 Champions League matches at Liverpool and at home to Fiorentina had been investigated and that European soccer’s governing body UEFA had disciplined goalkeeper Vukasin Poleksic in 2010 for not reporting approaches from fixers before those games.
Poleksic was banned for two years and fined 10,000 euros, although UEFA’s sanction only specified the Fiorentina match.
“The UEFA disciplinary committee’s position was that Vukasin Poleksic neglected his obligations when he didn’t report in time that, before two Champions League matches of DVSC, unknown persons attempted to persuade him to influence the outcome of the match,” Debrecen said in a statement on its website.