Europol calls on EU to give matchfixing higher priority


Matchfixing should be given greater priority in the judiciary and police, according to Europol serious crime expert David Ellero. Organized crime is increasingly involved in manipulating football matches and many European countries are not addressing the problem, NOS reports

According to both Ellero and Michael Bahrs, chief of a German police unit specializing in matchfixing, hundreds of football matches are manipulated by criminal organizations every year. "At present, matchfixing is particularly high profit and low risk" Ellero said. "Matchfixing is misinterpreted by enforcers. It is considered an integrity problem for the sport instead of serious organized crime."

One of the biggest problems in addressing matchfixing, is the poor exchange of information between countries and the fact that their priorities lie elsewhere, according to Bahrs. "Many European countries have no eye on this problem", he said to the broadcaster. "The result is that we haven't started any criminal proceedings yet, that we don't have a clear image of the networks, and that the criminals are getting bigger, just like the profits."

He uses the case surrounding Dutchman Paul R. as an example. This Noorwijk man is believed to be the link between the European and Asian gambling market, where he places bets on fixed matches on behalf of a criminal network. Case documents NOS has in its possession shows that R. placed bets in Asian betting shops on matches between Fortuna Sittard and Cambuur Leeuwarden, as well as SC Veendam and Helmond Sport in 2009. He is also suspected of bribing players in the Netherlands to throw matches.

Information exchange with the Dutch Public Prosecutor was a disaster in this case, according to Bahrs. "Since 2011 we gave the same information to the Netherlands three times", he said to NOS. "We are stillg etting requests from another prosecutor's office to provide the same information."

"The Netherlands has many different districts and services that can take on matchfixing", prosecutor Mirjam Mol explained to the broadcaster. "But since 2013 the points of contact are clear. It will not happen again." The Public Prosecutor is ready to lead the fight against this growing problem, she added. "In the Netherlands matchfixing is certainly a priority, but we also see it as symptom management. In an international context, we want to look much wider into the world behind matchfixing."