THE HAGUE, Netherlands —
“For people outside of football, currently the custodial sentences imposed are too weak and offer little to deter someone from getting involved in match-fixing,” he said.
Europol is not a police force but provides expertise and helps coordinate national police across the 27-nation European Union. It said 13 European countries were involved in this match-fixing investigation, pouring through 13,000 emails, paper trails, phone records and computer records.
Its probe uncovered (euro) 8 million ($10.9 million) in betting profits and (euro) 2 million ($2.7 million) in bribes to players and officials and has already led to several prosecutions.
“This is the tip of the iceberg,” said German investigator Friedhelm Althans, who also said two World Cup qualification matches in Africa and one in Central America were among those under suspicion.
Wainwright said while many fixed soccer matches were already known from criminal trials in Europe, the Europol investigation lifted the lid on the widespread involvement of organized crime.
He said a Singapore-based criminal network was involved in the match-fixing, spending up to (euro) 100,000 ($136,500) per match to bribe players and officials.
“The ringleaders are of Asian origin, working closely together with European facilitators,” Europol said in a statement, but adding that “Russian-speaking” and other criminal gangs were also involved.
Previous investigations have found that a World Cup qualifier between Liechtenstein and Finland in September 2009 was fixed by a referee from Bosnia, who UEFA banned for life.
Last year, UEFA expelled a Malta player implicated in fixing a European Championship qualifier between Norway and Malta in June 2007.