Accessibility links

Breaking News

Ukraine Accuses 35 Football Clubs, Hundreds Of Players, Officials Of Match Fixing

Ukrainian Interior Minister Arsen Avakov

Ukraine has accused 35 football clubs of involvement in a match-fixing operation that allegedly earned millions of dollars a year for the organizers.

Ukraine's Interior Ministry said a special operation had uncovered that two-thirds of all the teams in top divisions of Ukrainian soccer took part in fixing the outcome of games.

"Club presidents, former and current players, referees, trainers, and commercial organizations were involved," Interior Minister Arsen Avakov wrote on Facebook.

He said the ministry has documented 320 people involved in 57 "proven cases" of match fixing, adding that five criminal groups organized the fixing of games.

Avakov said the organizers had earned up to $5 million a year by betting in Asia on Ukrainian football matches in which the result was already predetermined.

"Any methods were used to get the 'right' score in the match -- from the bribing of players, referees, club owners, to intimidation and threats," said Avakov. "The amount of 'reward' for the desired result -- a victory or a draw -- ranged from 30,000 ($1,150) to 100,000 hryvnias ($3,840)."

Ukrainian Deputy Police Chief Ihor Kupranets told reporters, however, that no arrests had been made.

Kupranets added that prosecutors would decide whether and when to bring charges against the suspects.

Neither the names of the football clubs involved in the fixing nor the names of the people who allegedly took part were disclosed.

Ukraine's Football 24 online sports site reported that teams and players from the Premier League, First and Second Leagues, as well as the junior teams were suspected of being involved.

The announcement comes four days before Kyiv hosts the Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid.

Allegations of soccer match fixing in Eastern Europe have been prevalent for many years.

"Today is a historic day for Ukrainian football," said Ukrainian Football Federation head Andriy Pavelko. "This is the start of a systemic cleanup of Ukrainian football from a problem that was rooted in [it] for years."

Based on reporting by AFP and Interfax-Ukraine