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Asian crime syndicates suspected in global soccer match fixing

A 19-month investigation identified about 680 suspicious matches.
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Dejected goalkeeper Brad Friedel of Spurs looks on after conceding a second goal during the FA Cup on Jan. 27, 2013 in Leeds, England. (Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Investigators have discovered match fixing on an unprecedented scale in European soccer, finding that hundreds of soccer games, including Champions League and European Championship matches, were likely fixed. 

Europol — the European Union's police organization — and the European anti-crime agency conducted the joint investigation, identifying about 680 suspicious matches after a 19-month probe, The New York Times reported. Investigators also found evidence that Asian crime syndicates are closely involved, according to the Times.

"This is a sad day for European football," said Rob Wainwright, head of the European Union police organization Europol. He said the probe uncovered "match-fixing activity on a scale we have not seen before."

One investigator spoke of a complex web of messengers who paid off players and referees that, according to Reuters, included about "425 corrupt officials, players and serious criminals in 15 countries."

"We have evidence for 150 of these cases, and the operations were run out of Singapore with bribes of up to 100,000 euros paid per match," said Friedhelm Althans, chief investigator for police in the German city of Bochum. 

The identities of the suspected officials and players have not been made public. 

The investigation estimated about $10.9 million was gained by fixing games, and that $2.7 million was paid to players and officials, according to the Associated Press.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatches/globalpost-blogs/world-at-play/asian-crime-syndicates-suspected-in-global-soccer-match-fi