BELGIUM’s national football league is in complete turmoil following police raids across Europe that have targeted high-ranking officials charged with fraudulent transfers and match-fixing.
In Belgium, France, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Montenegro, Serbia and Macedonia, more than 44 houses were raided in an operation conducted by more than 200 police officers.
“A great number of persons have been deprived of their liberty and taken in for a thorough interrogation,” said a statement from investigators.
The biggest name taken down thus far is that of Mogi Bayat — a well-known agent and former manager of club Sporting Charleroi. Bayat has long-been suspected of fraudulent transfer deals.
Perhaps the biggest club caught up in the raids is Brugge, which is currently competing in the UEFA Champions League. It’s coach Ivan Leko is among those arrested in the raids.
Fans who believe in the sanctity and spirit of the code in Europe will be shocked to the core as corruption continues to air its ugly head both at the international level within FIFA and now at club level.
The headquarters of Club Brugge, Standard Liege, Anderlecht and KRC Genk were all among the premises raided.
One of the biggest dangers facing any sporting code around the world is integrity and trust. As illegal offshore bookmakers gain power in nations that outlaw sports wagering, the pull of huge money continues to plague sport throughout the sporting world.
In this case, the suspicion of match-fixing is front and centre of investigations into fraudulent transfers and results. Prosecutors have said their focus is on matches played in the 2017-18 season.
“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,” he said.