It now Seems, Irish Sport, is Riddled, with Fraud, Corruption, and possibly Gangland could be Involved.

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League of Ireland match-fixing investigation is only ‘tip of the iceberg’

19/05/2022

Seven of the ten men arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of match-fixing in the League of Ireland are current or former players and the probe is ‘only the tip of the iceberg’, it is now feared.

Gardaí released five of the men without charge on Wednesday night, as part of the Operation Brookweed day of action in relation to alleged match-fixing in the League of Ireland.

A file will now be prepared for the DPP. The five other men remained in custody on Wednesday night.

Seven of the ten men arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of match-fixing in the League of Ireland are current or former players and the probe is ‘only the tip of the iceberg’, it is now feared. Pic: KarlM Photography/Shutterstock

Four years ago, the FAI was exposed for a widespread culture of greed and mismanagement by senior officials. And now, young League of Ireland players are suspected of facilitating fixed games by faking injuries and throwing matches for profit. The men, aged from their 20s to 60s, were arrested following a series of raids in Dublin, Cork and Limerick.

A number of homes have also been searched, with the FAI stating only that it ‘notes the latest developments’.

It’s understood that two of the men are current players in the League of Ireland, while five of the men are retired footballers.

The investigation first began in 2019 on foot of reports of suspected match-fixing from the FAI and Uefa. Pic: Stephen McCarthy/Sportsfile

They were detained as part of Operation Brookweed, an investigation into alleged match-fixing led by the Anti-Bribery and Corruption Unit and Garda National Economic Crime Bureau.

A Garda spokesman said the men were arrested ‘on suspicion of the offence of Conspiracy to Defraud’.

The investigation first began in 2019 on foot of reports of suspected match-fixing from the FAI and Uefa.

Gardaí released five of the men without charge on Wednesday night, as part of the Operation Brookweed day of action in relation to alleged match-fixing in the League of Ireland. Pic: Irene Fox/Shutterstock

The Irish Daily Mail has learned that investigating officers paid close attention to the unusual betting patterns in certain clubs that were suspected of corruption.

Detectives noticed that large numbers of home fans in one part of the country were successfully betting on their own team to lose.

Gardaí had also attended numerous matches where they monitored the number of goals, both scored and conceded. In addition, they suspected that deliberate fouls were committed when a certain team lost.

It’s understood that two of the men are current players in the League of Ireland, while five of the men are retired footballers. Pic: Piaras Ó Mídheach/Sportsfile

It’s reported that two matches in particular in 2019 in the south of the country were the focus of the major investigation.

No arrests were made at the time, but gardaí seized a number of devices including mobile phones.

During the three-year inquiry, League of Ireland players and officials all over the country were interviewed by gardaí.

Garda car
It’s reported that two matches in particular in 2019 in the south of the country were the focus of the major investigation. Pic: Shutterstock

Speaking about the latest development, Detective Superintendent Catharina Gunne, said: ‘Match-fixing and corruption is a threat to all sports at all levels and undermines public confidence in the fairness of sport. It can allow organised crime to infiltrate sport in order to use it to make illicit gains or launder proceeds of crime.’

In a brief statement the FAI said the governing body, in conjunction with the Uefa, ‘remains committed to a zero-tolerance policy on match-fixing. As this is now a legal matter we will be making no further comment.’

Uefa has yet to address the operation, but when contacted by the Mail, a representative said: ‘We’re working on a statement, but we’re very busy with upcoming matches so I’m not sure if anyone will get back to you today.’

Detective Superintendent Catharina Gunne. Pic: Collins Courts

And despite numerous senior politicians’ condemnation of alleged match-fixing, the Department of Sport refused to be drawn into the issue.

A spokesman said: ‘As this is the subject of an ongoing Garda investigation it would not be appropriate for the Department… to comment, and any such queries should be directed to An Garda Síochána.

Sinn Fein spokesman on sport Chris Andrews said he suspects match-fixing in soccer is more extensive than commonly thought.

Sinn Fein spokesman on sport Chris Andrews said he suspects match-fixing in soccer is more extensive than commonly thought. Pic: Gareth Chaney/Collins Photos

‘This is a very significant number and probably only the tip of the iceberg,’ he said.

‘I would imagine there’s a lot more people involved, so obviously we have to send out a clear message that match-fixing in football isn’t acceptable, and that the sport cannot be ruined by a couple of greedy individuals.’

The Dublin Bay South TD said that underpaid players may be more susceptible to fraud.

‘A big issue is that very few footballers are on full-time contracts. Some are vulnerable [to match-fixing], but we cannot allow this to take hold,’ he said.

Gardaí are appealing to anyone with information in relation to match-fixing or sports corruption to contact them.

They can make a report in confidence to the Anti-Bribery and Corruption Confidential Reporting Line at 1800 406080 or to their local Garda station.

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