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French authorities investigate whether PSG game against Red Star was fixed

• L’Équipe says Red Star official suspected of €5m bet on 6-1 loss
• Clubs strongly deny wrongdoing in Champions League game

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French authorities are investigating whether a Champions League game involving Paris Saint-Germain and Red Star Belgrade was fixed.

Both clubs have strongly denied wrongdoing after L’Équipe reported that a Red Star official was suspected of betting €5m (£4.4m) on the team losing by five goals in a match PSG won 6-1. It is understood, Uefa passed on suspicions to the French authorities after the 3 October game at the Parc des Princes in Group C, which also includes Liverpool and Napoli.

France’s financial prosecutor’s office confirmed an investigation had been opened but declined to comment on the report.

Red Star, who drew their opening group game 0-0 at home to Napoli, said: “It is with the greatest anger and resentment that Red Star deny today’s report in the French newspaper L’Équipe in connection to doubts about the outcome of the Paris Saint-Germain-Red Star match and the involvement of anyone from Red Star in possible improper actions.

“The allegations from this report can cause great damage to the reputation of our club, and therefore Red Star insists both Uefa and the competent investigating authorities in Serbia and France investigate these doubts to the end and come to the truth.

“Today’s technologies and various other mechanisms have progressed so much that it is simply not possible for this case to be left unresolved. Red Star expects that the truth about this must come in as short a time as possible and that any doubt about the involvement of any member of our club in any possible disruptive actions must be removed.”

PSG expressed “amazement and indignation” and added: “Paris Saint-Germain reiterates its commitment to a fundamental principle of sport, that of the integrity of competitions and therefore refutes any form of practice that could call into question that integrity.”

Their statement read: “It was with the greatest stupefaction that Paris Saint-Germain discovered this article on the L’Équipe website regarding suspicions of match-fixing concerning the Champions League game with Red Star Belgrade. The club categorically rejects any and all direct and indirect implication in relation to these suspicions and would like to point out at no moment has Paris Saint-Germain been approached by the National Financial Court in charge of the investigation. PSG remains at the disposal of the investigators and will not tolerate the slightest attack on its reputation nor that of its officials. To that end the club reserves the right to take legal action against any party that makes defamatory statements against the club and/or its officials.”

ARJEL, the body in charge of regulating online gambling in France, told L’Équipe it did not notice any suspicious bets on the game.

A Uefa spokesperson said: “Uefa never comments on potential, or the existence of, investigations into alleged match-fixing so as to not compromise the process of such investigations.

“Uefa only communicates on specific cases/matches once disciplinary proceedings have been opened and/or decisions have been taken. Decisions taken by Uefa’s disciplinary bodies related to match-fixing are listed here
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Top clubs raided and leading agents, managers and referees interrogated by police in Belgium in huge corruption investigation

A series of raids by Belgium's federal police on Wednesday have resulted in the arrest of one of the country's most influential agents

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Referees, officials, agents and coaches at Belgium's biggest football clubs are being questioned after a major investigation into corruption.

The federal public prosecutor's office is looking into charges of fraud, tax evasion and money laundering, with Club Brugge and Anderlecht - the country's two biggest clubs - having their offices raided on Wednesday morning. These came as part of 44 raids nationwide and 13 more across France, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Montenegro, Macedonia and Serbia.

Agent Mogi Bayat, one of the most influential intermediaries in the Belgian top flight, has been arrested.

Bayat has previously been a director at Charleroi but has, in recent years, become one of the most important cogs in the Belgian transfer machine. Another agent, Dejan Veljkovic, has been interviewed by police according to De Standaard.

Club Brugge coach Ivan Leko has been questioned by police while two referees - including the referee of Celtic's Champions League qualifier against Rosenborg earlier this season, Bart Vertenten - are also under interrogation.

"Club Brugge will give full cooperation to the investigation and has nothing to hide," club chairman Bart Verhaeghe told Flemish TV channel VTM Nieuws.

The federal prosecutor said a year-long probe into soccer shows evidence of "suspect financial operations" by sports agents and indications "of possible influencing of games" over the last season.

The statement said some soccer agents, independent from one another, "would have schemed to hide" transfer commissions, payments of players and coaches, and other payments from the Belgian authorities, causing tax losses.

It was during the investigation, the prosecutor's office said, that indications appeared that there may have been match-fixing during the 2017-18 season.

UPDATE

19 charged in Belgium football fraud probe: Prosecutor

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BRUSSELS • Belgian prosecutors have charged 19 suspects and detained nine in a massive fraud and match-fixing investigation that has mired Belgium's elite league in scandal, they said yesterday.

The charges came after police carried out a massive operation in Belgium on Wednesday, arresting 29 people, 10 of whom were released without charge. Among the detained were at least three players' agents, a referee, and a top executive from a major football club.

Mogi Bayat, portrayed in the media as Belgium's most powerful sports agent, was charged with money laundering and conspiracy, a statement added.

He was detained pending his next hearing, as were fellow agents Dejan Veljkovic and Karim Mejjati, who were questioned this week as part of the operation targeting Belgian football's elite.

Referee Bart Vertenten was also charged with conspiracy and arrested, while former Anderlecht club lawyer Laurent Denis was charged for both conspiracy and money laundering.

On Thursday, another referee, Sebastien Delferiere, was charged but was immediately released on parole.

Vertenten and Delferiere were suspended on Thursday with immediate effect by the Belgian Football Federation.

The charges against referees are part of a probe into suspected match-fixing by Veljkovic in a failed effort to save former top-tier club Mechelen from relegation to the second division.

Club Bruges coach Ivan Leko, whose team are playing in the Champions League, was charged with money-laundering on Thursday and released.

Hearings before the judge were held throughout the night, with former Anderlecht boss Herman van Holsbeeck released without charge.
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Jones handed snooker suspension over match-fixing allegations

World number 39, Jamie Jones has been handed suspension from the World Snooker Tour and will face a disciplinary hearing from The World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA).

The case relates to a International Championship Qualification tie played between David John and Graeme Dott on 29 September 2016. 30 year old Jones is accused of being “party to, or facilitated, the manipulation of the outcome” of the match in question.

A WPBSA statement outlined: “Following a WPBSA investigation into alleged breaches of the WPBSA rules by David John, a decision has been taken today that Jamie Jones has a case to answer.

“The allegation is that Jamie Jones was party to, or facilitated, the manipulation of the outcome of David John’s match with Graeme Dott that was played at the International Championship Qualifiers in Preston on 29 September 2016.

“Jason Ferguson, the chairman of the WPBSA has taken the decision to suspend Jones from attending or competing on the World Snooker tour with immediate effect. This suspension will remain in place until the conclusion of the hearing or hearings and the determination of this matter. Jones has the right to appeal his decision.”

The WPBSA also emphasised that no matches played by Jones were under investigation at this stage.
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Gleb and Vadim Alekseenko banned from tennis for life for match fixing

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Ukrainian twins Gleb and Vadim Alekseenko have been banned from tennis for life and each fined $250,000 (£190,018) for match fixing.

The pair were found guilty of multiple match-fixing offences at a number of ITF Futures tournaments between June 2015 and January 2016.

They also arranged for another person to bet on matches which they contrived the result.

The case was based on an investigation by the Tennis Integrity Unit.

The match-fixing offences occurred at tournaments in Romania, Russia, Germany and Turkey on the Futures tour, tennis' third-tier of tournaments.

Vadim Alekseenko is 1,113th in the ATP rankings, having reached a career-high 497th in June 2014.

Gleb Alekseenko is ranked 1,724th, with a career-high of 609 in May 2011.
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Betting suspended on Waterford v Limerick following flurry of 'suspicious bets'

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Betting has been suspended by a number of bookmakers on tonight's League of Ireland clash between Waterford FC and Limerick FC following a late flurry of 'suspicious bets'.

It's been a miserable season for Limerick, with Revenue reportedly issuing a winding-up order against the company which owns the club while they also sit second bottom in the Premier Division table ahead of Bray.

The club is entering a massive two weeks as they prepare to take on old foes Finn Harps a two legged promotion/relegation playoff, with the first game getting underway at Finn Park, Ballybofey on Bank Holiday Monday (October 29).

But before that crucial tie, Limerick must get through their final league game of the regular season as they travel to the RSC to face Waterford FC this evening (7:45pm).

However, betting on the match has been suspended by most bookies, including BoyleSports and Ladbrokes, after "suspicious betting patterns emerged" in the lead up to the game.

Paddy Power confirmed to Buzz.ie that they too have suspended betting on the fixture.

Limerick opened at 25/1 to win the game earlier this week but that shortened to as low as 4/1 after a number of late bets were placed on the away team grabbing a win.

According to RTE journalist Rory Houston, the odds on the club winning the game went from 20/1 to 11/2 in just over an hour following a flurry of bets.



€85,000 worth of bets has been placed on the game, with 93% gone on Limerick, while most other games in the league reportedly have on average around €8,000 matched on Betfair.









Limerick boss Tommy Barrett recently admitted that he may be forced to field a weakened team in tonight's clash against Waterford - who have already sealed a 4th-place finish - due to the short turn around before Monday's first-leg playoff.

"I have to look after my squad first and foremost and we’ve so many Injuries and we’ve such low numbers so to play on a Friday away from home and then up to Harps on a Monday is a really big ask, especially considering they’ve had a ten day break between matches,” he said on the on Between the Stripes LOI podcast.

“I know a lot of people will say we are full-time but we’re not. I’ve eight full-time players and two of those are long-term injuries and out of the other six lads there’s only one of those whose experienced at the moment in Shane Duggan, all the rest are young lads.”

Earlier this week the High Court adjourned an application by the Revenue to wind up Limerick FC for three weeks.
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Spanish police arrest tennis players in match-fixing ring

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MADRID (AP) — Spanish police say 28 professional tennis players, including one who participated in last year’s U.S. Open, have been linked to an international organized group accused of fixing matches.

Authorities said on Thursday the players tainted results after taking bribes from an Armenian ring that was dismantled in October. Fifteen people were arrested at the time, including some of the tennis players.

Eleven houses were raided and police seized luxury vehicles, a shotgun, credit cards, and 167,000 euros ($191,000) in cash.

It wasn’t clear if the player who took part in the U.S. Open was among those detained.

Police accused Spaniard player Marc Fornell-Mestres, whose highest career singles ranking was 236th in 2007, of acting as the link between players and the Armenian ring that bribed them for betting purposes.

No other names had been immediately disclosed by authorities.

The 36-year-old Fornell-Mestres was provisionally suspended from professional tennis at the end of last year, according to the Tennis Integrity Unit, which said the suspension related to an investigation into “alleged breaches of the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program.” Fornell-Mestres was ranked 1007th in singles and 772th in doubles at the end of 2018.

It was a warning by the Tennis Integrity Unit in 2017 that prompted Spanish authorities to begin the investigation.

Police said the organized group bribed the players to guarantee predetermined results and used the identities of thousands of citizens to place international bets on the matches. Authorities said members of the Armenian ring attended the matches to ensure the players complied with what was previously agreed.

European Union law enforcement agency Europol, which supported the operation led by Spanish authorities, said at least 97 matches from lower-tier Futures and Challenger tournaments were fixed.

In total, 83 people were implicated in the probe, including the alleged leaders of the Armenian group. More than 40 bank accounts used by those allegedly involved with the ring were blocked by authorities.

Police are also investigating what they suspect are strong links between some of the suspects arrested in Spain and an Armenian-Belgian crime gang broken up by Belgium police last year, also suspected of fixing tennis matches. In the Belgium case, police announced in June the arrest of 13 people in Belgium and said the gang also targeted lower-level tennis matches.
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Four tennis players in French custody as match-fixing ring unravels

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PARIS -- Four tennis players are in French custody on suspicion of helping an organized gambling syndicate believed to have fixed hundreds of low-tier matches, sources close to the investigation told The Associated Press.

The players are suspected of working for Grigor Sargsyan, the 28-year-old known as the Maestro. Police believe the Belgium-based kingpin may have paid more than 100 players from at least half a dozen countries.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to discuss details publicly, said at least one suspect told investigators that he fixed around two dozen matches for Sargsyan.

They named the players as Jules Okala, 21; Mick Lescure, 25; Yannick Thivant, 31; and Jerome Inzerillo, 28. None operated in the highest spheres of tennis. The career-best singles ranking of any of them was 354, reached by Inzerillo in 2012. The arrests of Okala and Lescure were first reported Wednesday by French sports newspaper L'Equipe.

The detentions are part of months of digging by police working across Europe to unravel a massive match-fixing scheme, organized via encrypted messaging and involving dozens of low-ranked players who struggle to make ends meet by playing in small tournaments.

A dozen or more other French players are expected to be questioned in coming days or weeks. An investigator said France was one of the countries "hardest hit" by the syndicate, which targeted lower-level pro-circuit tournaments. Okala and Lescure were detained before they were to play in a modest tournament in Bressuire, France, this week that offers a total of $15,000 in prize money.

Investigators have also questioned other players in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Slovakia and Bulgaria and are looking to question others, including both players and managers, in the United States, Chile and Egypt.

Police say Sargsyan employed mules, people hired for a few euros to place bets for the syndicate that were small enough to slip under the radar of gambling watchdogs.

In all, more than 100 players are suspected of having worked with the syndicate, fixing matches, sets or games in exchange for payments of 500 to 3,000 euros ($570 to $3,400), with the deals sometimes organized through encrypted messages.

"The impression we're getting is that it is very commonplace," one official told the AP. Another said several hundred matches are thought to have been fixed.

Investigators fear that players corrupted by the syndicate could suck others into the scheme if left unchecked and could go on to infect bigger tournaments if they climb higher in tennis' rankings.

"In time, they could be managers of other new players or trainers, so we have to get them out of the system or they could corrupt others in a few years," one official told the AP.

Sargsyan was swept up in a wave of arrests in Belgium in June and remains in custody, facing organized crime, match-fixing, money laundering and forgery charges. A suspected banker for the syndicate also faces money laundering and organized crime charges, while four others are being investigated for illegal gambling and finding mules.

Because the bets were small, the risk of detection was "almost zero," but the profits could still be considerable if many bets were placed, one official said.

Still unclear is whether the Belgium-based syndicate was linked to another match-fixing and gambling operation, also involving Armenians, that unraveled in Spain. Spanish police last week announced that 28 professional tennis players, including one who participated in last year's US Open, were linked to that ring, taking bribes to fix results that the group bet on using fake identities.
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