At least 680 soccer games around the world were fixed between 2008 and 2011, about half by a syndicate allegedly operating from Singapore, an international police coalition said Monday.
The matches include World Cup qualifiers, European Championship games, and league games across Europe, Asia, and Africa, according to the European anti-crime agency Europol.
Corruption risk in professional soccer has been a well known problem. But the connection to squeaky clean Singapore is a surprise.
The tiny city-state in Southeast Asia ranks 5th on the Corruption Perceptions Index.
A police investigator in Germany cited ‘evidence [that] for 150 of these cases . . . the operations were run out of Singapore with bribes of up to €100,000 paid per match.’according to a report from Reuters.
Singapore police are reportedly focusing on a local man suspected of being the mastermind behind the global syndicate but haven’t made any arrests.
Suspicious games were played in Turkey, Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Croatia, Austria, Hungary, Bosnia, Slovenia, and Canada, as well as Latin America, Africa, and Asia.
In Germany, 14 people have been convicted as a result of the worldwide investigation. Austrian authorities have arrests 20 people suspected of participating in match fixing, including players.
Singapore police are cooperating with Italian authorities, Reuters said.
“Even two World Cup qualification matches in Africa, and one in Central America, are under suspicion,” Friedhelm Althans, chief investigator for police in the German city of Bochum, told Reuters.