Liverpool's name dragged into global match-fixing scandal

Feb 5, 2013
Bill Mann

Debrecen goalie was allegedly paid to rig 2009 Champions League game result: Reds not at fault

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LIVERPOOL are the English club unwittingly embroiled in the global match-fixing scandal. According to a report in The Sun, the Reds' 2009 Champions League fixture against Hungarian side Debrecen is one of the 680 matches worldwide that is suspected of having been fixed.

The Daily Mail claims that Debrecen goalkeeper Vukasin Poleksic was "allegedly paid to ensure there were more than two goals in the match" at Anfield on September 16. Poleksic failed in his task, conceding just once in the 1-0 defeat, when Dirk Kuyt crashed home a rebound after Fernando Torres's initial shot had been parried.

Liverpool almost made it 2-0 when Steven Gerrard also hit the bar but as the match wore on the home side defended their lead and offered little in the way of attack.

The Mail says police have recovered text messages exchanged with a Far Eastern betting ring in which they "bemoaned the fact that Gerrard missed some presentable chances".

Later in the same Champions League group stage it's alleged that Poleksic was again paid to fix Debrecen's match against Fiorentina, a game the Italians won 4-3. The goalkeeper has subsequently been banned from all football for failing to report an approach by a criminal gang prior to the match against Fiorentina.

The report into the match-fixing scandal, published yesterday, revealed that Europol are investigating 380 professional matches — including World Cup and European Championship qualifiers and two Champions League games — with 425 officials, club officials, players and criminals suspected of being implicated.

Both the Sun and the Mail stress that Liverpool are not involved in any way in the scandal and when the Sun contacted the club last night for comment, a spokesman said: "We have had absolutely no contact off anyone from Europol, nothing whatsoever."

The Football Association appeared to have little knowledge of the claims about the Liverpool v Debrecen match, with a spokesman saying: "We are not aware of any credible reports into suspicious Champions League fixtures in England, nor has any information been shared with us."

UEFA has said it will co-operate fully with investigators in what is arguably the most damaging case of corruption in football history. The governing body also promised "zero-tolerance" towards match-fixing.

The claims made public on Monday by Europol allege that a Singapore-based crime group is at the centre of the betting ring. According to the Mail, more than £6.9m in betting profits and £1.72m in bribes to players and match officials have already been uncovered. Of the 680 matches investigated, 380 took place in Europe.

In going public with the extent of the corruption, Rob Wainwright, head of law enforcement at Europol, said: "This is the first time we have established substantial evidence that organised crime is now operating in the world of football… we were surprised by the scale of the criminal enterprise and just how widespread it was. This is a sad day for European football."

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