Po­lice raid top foot­ball clubs in fraud in­quiry

Shanghai Daily - - SPORTS - (AFP)

PO­LICE car­ried out raids in seven coun­tries yes­ter­day as Bel­gian pros­e­cu­tors tar­geted the coun­try’s big­gest foot­ball clubs as part of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into fraud and match-fix­ing.

A to­tal of 220 po­lice of­fi­cers car­ried out 44 house searches across Bel­gium as well as in France, Lux­em­bourg, Cyprus, Mon­tene­gro, Ser­bia and Mace­do­nia, Bel­gian pros­e­cu­tors said.

“A great num­ber of per­sons have been de­prived of their lib­erty and taken in for a thor­ough in­ter­ro­ga­tion,” said a state­ment from in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

Fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors said the ar­rests in­cluded well-known foot­ball agent Mogi Bayat, the for­mer man­ager of Sport­ing Charleroi, who had been ar­rested in his home.

Bayat, a 44-year-old Bel­gian-Ira­nian, was the main tar­get of the probe, Bel­gian me­dia re­ports said, along with an­other agent and clubs with which they did busi­ness. Club Brugge coach Ivan Leko was also ar­rested on yes­ter­day, while the head­quar­ters of Brugge, Stan­dard Liege, An­der­lecht and KRC Genk were searched in the op­er­a­tion.

At Stan­dard Liege po­lice seized con­tracts in­volv­ing play­ers Obbi Ou­lare, Michel Preud­homme and Dino Arslanagic that were all linked to Bayat. Club Brugge and An­der­lecht said they will fully co­op­er­ate with the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

“Club Brugge has noth­ing to hide,” chair­man Bart Ver­haeghe said.

An­der­lecht “gives its full co­op­er­a­tion and makes no fur­ther com­ments”, said spokesman David Stee­gen.

Sus­pi­cion of match-fix­ing emerged dur­ing the fraud in­ves­ti­ga­tion, with a fo­cus put on matches played in the 201718 sea­son. The house searches out­side Bel­gium were mainly con­nected to the sus­pect trans­fer schemes.

“I am ask­ing for full trans­parency and co­op­er­a­tion from the foot­ball world to this in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” said Philippe Muyters, sports min­is­ter from Bel­gium’s Dutch-speak­ing Flem­ish re­gion. “The ath­letes and espe­cially the nu­mer­ous sup­port­ers are en­ti­tled to a fair sport.”

Bayat and his brother Me­hdi are both ma­jor play­ers in the Bel­gian foot­ball scene, an as­cent that be­gan when their un­cle bought the Charleroi in 2000.

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