The European Union's joint police agency said here Monday that investigators have detected an international conspiracy to fix hundreds of soccer matches, including three World Cup qualifiers and UEFA Champions League fixtures.
The Asia-based ring tried to fix at least 680 matches worldwide, Europol director Rob Wainwright said at a press conference in The Hague.
"We have evidence for 150 of these cases, and the operations were run out of Singapore with bribes of up to 100,000 euros ($135, 180) paid per match," investigator Friedhelm Althans said.
Match-fixing rings are operating "on a scale and in a way that threatens the very fabric of the game," Wainwright said.
Fifty people have already been arrested as a result of the probe and Europol has issued international arrest warrants for 28 other suspects, he said.
The investigation is ongoing in Germany, Austria, Slovenia, Britain, Hungary, the Netherlands and Turkey.
The findings so far point to "a big problem for the integrity of football (soccer) in Europe," Wainwright said.
Europol estimates the betting profits from the scheme at $10.9 million and says criminals paid bribes totaling $2.7 million to players and officials.
The findings so far point to "a big problem for the integrity of football (soccer) in Europe," Wainwright said. EFE