France probes suspicions of match-fixing in PSG-Red Star Champions League game
>> PARIS: France’s financial prosecutor’s office said on Friday it was investigating suspicions of match-fixing in the Champions League match match between Paris St-Germain and Serbian club Red Star Belgrade on Oct 3.
Earlier on Friday, French sports newspaper L’Equipe wrote on its website that European football’s governing body Uefa had alerted French authorities of possible match-fixing at the match, based on a tip from a “credible” informant.
L’Equipe said the informant had told Uefa, before the match, that a high-level Red Star official was planning to place nearly €5 million in bets on a five-goal-difference win by PSG, with the complicity of several players. This prompted the investigation.
PSG beat Red Star 6-1 with Neymar scoring a hat-trick.
The prosecutor’s office said it could neither confirm nor deny L’Equipe’s story.
Red Star denied the allegations made in the newspaper report.
“With the utmost anger and disdain, Red Star vehemently denies allegations that the club’s Champions League match with PSG might have been rigged. Red Star also strongly denies the involvement of any of the club’s officials in any such illegitimate acts,” Red Star said in a statement.
“Allegations from L’Equipe could cause considerable damage to our club’s reputation and Red Star Football Club therefore insists that Uefa as well as the authorities in Serbia and France should fully investigate these suspicions to find out the truth,” Red Star said.
L’Equipe wrote that no evidence of any match-fixing had yet been uncovered by authorities and that all options were possible, from match-fixing to false allegations.
L’Equipe quoted PSG as saying they were surprised and shocked by the allegations and that no one at the club had been contacted about anything other than issues strictly linked to organising the match.
In an emailed response to Reuters, Uefa said it never comments on potential, or the existence of, investigations into alleged match-fixing so as not to compromise the process of such investigations.
Also on Friday, Belgian prosecutors said they had charged 19 people, including two referees, agents and the coach of Belgian champions Club Bruges, with fraud or match-fixing.
The offences ranged from criminal organisation to money laundering and corruption, federal prosecutors said.
Nine of the 19 remained in custody. Ivan Leko, the Croatian coach of champions Club Bruges, was among those released.
“I will fight back. This is not the first time I was on zero ... I didn’t deserve this,” he said.
PSG’s Neymar celebrates after scoring against Red Star Belgrade.