Friday, March 03, 2006

Soccer Corruption in Belgium

Federal prosecutors in Brussels have issued an international warrant for the arrest of a Chinese businessman in relation to an alleged match fixing scam in the Belgian league. Officials are also looking at people in England and Finland.

Only one club has been named in match fixing case, but, "the net is a lot bigger than that, and the number of individuals is greater." Belgium's media has implicated seven clubs. These matches were allegedly fixed for betting purposes.

Suspicions were raised back in November when bets totaling €400,000, ($480,000) about 20 times the usual amount, were placed on La Louivière, which beat Sint Truiden, 3-1, in the Belgian league on Oct. 29. Since the German betting scandal, UEFA and FIFA have asked betting agencies to alert authorities when such events happen. This lead to a huge investigation, lead mainly by the media.

The VRT national television station and the Flemish newspaper Het Nieuwsblad went where the law was initially slow to go. VRT named names and alleged that 14 players and coaches from Belgian clubs were linked to a Shanghai gambling cartel.

So far one coach has resigned, while some players have been named and suspended. This is starting to cause some financial pain for those involved as Lierse lost its main sponsor and Belgcom, who has rights to broadcast the games, wants to talk to the league.

The interesting thing is the Chinese connection as it leads to a very interesting disclosure.

It was suggested that 70 to 80 percent of the referees in China's new "Super League" had taken a bribe at least once - and this from corporate executives who paid the money and who came forward under a promise of amnesty in exchange for information.

This is yet more bad news for China's league. The league almost went bankrupt after its first year as sponsors were hesitant to support the league due to corruption fears. If these numbers do turn out to be true, it could be the death of the league.


Blogger Manic said...

Well this case is huge, three clubs are being investigated and more then 10 players are suspected of being bribed. Really terrible case. I reported it on my site with names and everything.

11:20 AM  

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