Belgian football clubs raided in police inquiry into alleged fraud

Rex Christensen
Октября 10, 2018

Among the top clubs to have been searched are Anderlecht, who have won Belgium's first division 34 times, their fierce rivals Club Brugge, and one-time European Cup Winners' Cup finalists Standard Liege.

Prosecutors did not name any clubs or people.

A total of 220 police officers carried out 44 house searches across Belgium as well as in France, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Montenegro, Serbia and Macedonia, Belgian prosecutors said.

"Match-fixing undermines the integrity of sports. the Justice Department is working for a fair sport", Justice Minister Koen Geens said.

The searches overseas were chiefly at offices and residences of people used to set up the suspect transactions, the prosecutors said.

The investigation centres on "activities relating to a criminal organisation, money laundering and private corruption", the prosecutor's office said.

"The house searches this morning [Wednesday] were conducted at several football clubs active within the Jupiler Pro League".

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"Agents, referees, a former lawyer, an accounting office, jewellers, journalists" were among those hit by the raids, authorities said.

"A great number of persons have been deprived of their liberty and taken in for a thorough interrogation", the statement said.

The searches overseas were chiefly at offices and residences of people used to set up the suspect transactions, the prosecutors said. "Documents and funds were seized from bank accounts and in safes".

"The club is cooperating fully with the investigation and will make no further comments".

Belgian broadcasters VRT and RTBF said searches had taken place at leading teams including Anderlecht, Club Bruges and Standard Liege.

The chairman of champions Club Brugge, Bart Verhaeghe, told Flemish TV channel VTM Nieuws: "Club Brugge will give full cooperation to the investigation and has nothing to hide".

"Of course, we co-operate positively and constructively", he is quoted as saying by HLN. "The investigators wanted to inspect contracts and invoices, which we have given, which will show that everything is clean and in order".

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