9 arrests in Belgian football fraud, match-fixing scandal

Federal Prosecutor Spokespersons Wenke Roggen, left, and Eric Van Duyse read a press release at the Belgium Federal Prosecutor Office in Brussels, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018. Belgian authorities charged five people Thursday in relation to a massive financial fraud and match-fixing probe into soccer. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)
In this photo taken on Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018 Dortmund fans set off flares as Club Brugge players stand on the pitch prior their Champions League group A soccer match with Dortmund at the Jan Breydel Stadium in Bruges. Belgian authorities charged five people Thursday in relation to a massive financial fraud and match-fixing probe into soccer. Financial fraud centered on two agents who had contacts with many of the leading clubs, including Anderlecht, Club Brugge and Standard Liege. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

BRUSSELS — Three days into Belgium's biggest football scandal in decades, nine people are behind bars, including one top referee and three agents.

In all, 19 people faced charges ranging from match fixing to money laundering.

Yet, after Wednesday's extraordinary police operation covering 57 raids in seven nations, the scandal has left the nation's World Cup stars and the Red Devils national side untouched.

Belgium plays Switzerland in the UEFA Nations League late Friday in Brussels with barely a question mark over the match.

At national level though, the damage is widespread. Even though match-fixing allegations did not center on winning the Belgian league, which involved clubs such as Anderlecht, Club Brugge, and Standard Liege last season, it centered on the relegation fight and a once-famous club, FC Mechelen, which has fallen on hard times.

After spending one night in jail, the coach of league champion Brugge was back on the pitch on Friday, saying, "I didn't deserve this, what happened the last two days."

He was released on Thursday but is still charged with money laundering, something his club says refers to a period before he joined Brugge.

He was applauded back onto the training pitch and the owners confirmed their trust in him in a statement: "Club Brugge sees no reason why it should end its relationship of trust with Ivan Leko, both as a coach and as an individual."

Two referees, including the ref in jail, are suspended until further notice.

The government was less than amused, especially since football has been able to count on tax breaks and leeway on social security contributions for years.

"Considering the cost to society, it cannot be that money saved is used for money laundering or other criminal activities," Belgian Vice Premier Kris Peeters said.

The charges filed against 19 people include belonging to a criminal organization, match fixing, money laundering, and corruption, said federal prosecutor's spokeswoman, Wenke Roggen.

Because of the size of the scandal, Belgian soccer's second division decided to scrap this weekend's games. There are no fixtures in the first division because of the international break.

___

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

People also read these

Argentina goalkeeper Romero out of World Cup with...

May 23, 2018

Argentina goalkeeper Sergio Romero will miss the World Cup because of a right knee injury

Afghan women's basketball player among 9 elected...

Oct 9, 2018

The International Olympic Committee has elected nine new members including 24-year-old Samira...

Van Avermaet wins E3 Harelbeke after 3-man sprint

Mar 24, 2017

Olympic road champion Greg Van Avermaet came out on top of a three-man sprint to win the E3...

Philippe Gilbert wins Tour of Flanders after solo...

Apr 2, 2017

Veteran Belgian rider Philippe Gilbert rode away to clinch his first win at the Tour of Flanders as...

Dutch head to Winter Games led by Kramer and Wust

Dec 30, 2017

Olympic champions Sven Kramer and Ireen Wust lead strong Dutch team to the speedskating oval in...

About Us

Daily Sports Global, your guide to the best sports news on the Internet. Access to the world’s biggest sports events right here even if you’re not physically there.

Contact us: sales[at]dailysportsglobal.com

Subscribe Now!