MOSCOW, July 29 (RAPSI) – European law enforcement agency Europol will conduct an investigation into alleged football match fixing by Russian organized crime, it said Monday.
Europol uncovered an organized Asian crime syndicate In early February that operated match fixing in football games. Europol investigators are looking into 680 football games around the world, 380 of them in Europe, including World Cup and European Cup games, two Champions League games and various European cups games.
"This problem isn't one just linked to Asian organized crime. We also have our suspicions about Russian mafia groups involved in match fixing. We are looking at that for the moment. Also we are looking at some organized crime groups originating from the western Balkans," Rob Wainwright, the chief of the EU police intelligence agency, told the Sunday Times.
"I am not surprised by this. For the gangs, this is high profit and low risk in nature. We know that Russian groups are active across many sectors so we are not surprised they are having a go at this one as well. We are boosting our team here [in the Hague] to investigate this," he added.
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law July 24 a bill toughening the maximum penalty for match-fixing to seven years in prison. The law, proposed by Putin in January, makes it an offense for athletes, coaches and sports officials to bet on their own sports. Offenders will face possible prison time and a maximum 1 million ruble ($30,000) fine if convicted.