A Champions League tie played by Liverpool back in 2009 is supposedly one of 680 games worldwide under suspicion of match-fixing…
An investigation by the European Union’s law enforcement agency, Europol, has reportedly uncovered a match involving Liverpool FC believed to have been fixed.
Investigators did not confirm the identity of the match or the teams involved, other than to say it took place in England in the ‘last three or four years’, but speculation today suggests Liverpool’s 1-0 home win over Hungarian side Debrecen in 2009 is the fixture in question.
Europol revealed on Monday that they had uncovered an organised crime syndicate based in Asia that was co-ordinating the match-fixing operation with some 425 match officials, club officials, players and criminals suspected of being involved.
Amongst the 680 games in 30 countries under scrutiny are World Cup and European Championship qualifiers and several top flight games from around Europe. In total 380 of the suspicious matches were staged in Europe with the rest in Africa, Asia and south and central America.
Rob Wainwright, director of Europol, explained: “This is the work of a suspected organised crime syndicate based in Asia and operated with criminal networks around Europe.
“It is clear to us this is the biggest-ever investigation into suspected match-fixing in Europe. It has yielded major results which we think have uncovered a big problem for the integrity of football in Europe.
“We have uncovered an extensive criminal network.”
In terms of Liverpool’s match there is no suggestion the Anfield club are guilty of any wrongdoing.
“We’ve not had any contact from Europol and no other agency has been in touch with Liverpool,” said a Liverpool spokesman earlier today.
The Champions League Group E game was played on Wednesday 16th September 2009 and decided by a single goal by former Reds striker Dirk Kuyt.
Liverpool failed to make it out of the group, finishing third behind Fiorentina and Lyon, whilst Debrecen finished bottom without registering a single point.
Although there is clearly no direct blame attached to the club or players, this is an unwelcome headline. The scale of the investigation and what it has uncovered is pretty staggering but in some ways unsurprising given the problems experienced by other sports such as cricket in recent years. Hopefully Europol‘s revelations can help to clean the game up from a match-fixing perspective but it is hard to imagine things like this ever being totally eradicated. Especially if you consider the corruption and mismanagement that is alleged to be taking place amongst the organisations charged with running the game, even at the highest level in UEFA and FIFA.
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