An undisclosed number of people were arrested by German police yesterday under suspicion of fixing matches in major European football leagues. The arrests are the result of an investigation supported the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) into what appears to be a large and well-organized group of individuals who have been influencing the results of certain matches in order to make money betting on the outcome of the games.
Very few details have been released, though a press conference is scheduled for late Friday. The individuals arrested are thought to have bribed players, coaches, referees, and officials of various European football organizations, coercing them to manipulate specific games in order to achieve pre-arranged results. Those arrested seem to have taken advantage of the fact that sports betting is legal throughout the country, though it is not clear whether they placed wagers at high street betshops or at online sportsbooks in Germany.
Among the games suspected of being fixed are various matches from the Turkish top division. Investigations into these games have already targeted more than 100 individuals who are suspected of being involved in these match-setting schemes. Recent increases in fraudulent activities like these have forced the UEFA to invest considerable resources into strengthening a special detection system that monitors all top two divisions across Europe, notifying officials of suspicious betting trends.
Match fixing is a problem no matter how one chooses to look at it. Players are obviously affected, but so is anyone who chooses to bet on sports in Germany and elsewhere across Europe. When matches are fixed, certain bettors receive an unfair advantage, while everyone else suffers under the illusion that they are in fact betting on fair games. Like all such problems, it is never likely to go away completely, but the UEFA and league officials are working hard to keep the problem under control.