Posted - 06/30/2011 : 03:02:47 AM
| Police detain 7 in Hungarian match-fixing probe
BUDAPEST, Hungary — Hungarian law enforcement officials said Wednesday that three players and four referees have been detained in an international match-fixing investigation.
The probe launched by the Chief Investigative Prosecutor's Office and National Investigation Office identified four matches suspected of being fixed and two more in which attempts were made.
Authorities said the matches involve various senior and junior international teams, as well as being from the Hungarian and Finnish topflight leagues.
An international syndicate is suspected of paying referees and players between —40,000 ($57,600) and —85,000 ($122,400) per match to influence results. The syndicate is believed to have collected up to —600,000 ($864,000) a game in successful bets.
Police say searches were carried out at 12 locations Tuesday, with nearly $100,000 confiscated as well as documents, computer equipment and other evidence.
Hungarian officials, who coordinated with law enforcement authorities in other European countries, said the number of suspicious matches and suspects could rise.
"This is just the first strike," said prosecutor's office spokesman Geza Fazekas.
A local court will decide Thursday on the prosecution's request to place all seven suspects under preliminary arrest.
Hungarian media said former player Zoltan Kenesei was allegedly the leader of the Hungarian branch of the organization, which police said was directed "by a person from the Far East."
Others reportedly being held by police are referees Kolos Lengyel, Krisztian Selmeczi and Janos Csak, who were suspended earlier this year by Hungary's football federation for handling a match between Estonia and Bulgaria without permission.
The game ended in a 2-2 draw with all four goals being scored from penalties.
One match under investigation is a 1-0 victory by Argentina's under-20 team over Bolivia last December. The game was refereed by Lengyel, Selmeczi and Tamas Mocsari, the fourth referee detained in the probe. The goal again came from a penalty after more than 10 minutes of injury time.
In that match, authorities say criminals wagered large sums that a goal would be scored during the last five minutes.
The developments announced in Hungary add to an extensive series of match-fixing scandals that have touched many parts of the world.
FIFA is currently investigating a slew of similar cases that have developed with alarming speed across the world in the past year.
International matches involving Argentina and 2010 World Cup host South Africa are the latest to fall under suspicion, with friendlies in Bahrain, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates also being probed because of suspected links to fixers with Malaysian and Singaporean connections.
UEFA helped German authorities jail members of a Croatian-led syndicate believed to have fixed more than 300 matches in at least 12 countries — including a 2010 World Cup qualifier — for betting scams by bribing referees, players and officials.
Investigations are also under way involving domestic league matches in Greece, Italy and South Korea.
By Pablo Gorondi, Associated Press
Back to the main page of The Casino Watch Dog