Major probe  | 

FAI worker and footballer among 10 men quizzed by Gardai over alleged match fixing

All 10 men arrested last week, aged from their 20s to their 60s, have since been released without charge.

Gardaí are investigating suspected match-fixing. Stock picture posed

Patrick O'Connell

An FAI worker and a League of Ireland footballer, currently playing in the SSE Airtricity League, were among the 10 men arrested by gardaí probing allegations of match fixing.

The Sunday World understands the FAI worker was appointed to a role on a scheme in which the FAI is partnered - subsequent to the organisation reporting concerns about match-fixing allegations to Gardaí in 2019.

Emails and phone-calls from this newspaper to the FAI seeking clarity on the man's current status, and queries as to whether he has been placed on leave pending the outcome of the Garda investigation, were not responded to by the FAI.

Instead, the organisation issued a statement to this newspaper saying: "The FAI and UEFA operate a zero-tolerance policy towards match fixing and the heaviest punishment possible will be served on anyone found guilty of match fixing in the current investigation.

"The FAI and UEFA first alerted Gardaí to the current incident back in 2019 and have co-operated fully with the Garda investigations."

The League of Ireland footballer who was arrested this week remains active in the SSE Airtricity League.

All 10 men arrested last week, aged from their 20s to their 60s, have since been released without charge.

Titled Operation Brookweed, the investigation is focussed on matches involving Limerick FC in 2016 and 2019 and is being run by officers attached to the Garda National Economic Unit's Anti-Bribery and Corruption Unit.

Detectives examined unusual betting patterns in a number of matches where they suspected deliberate fouls may have been committed to ensure one team lost and money was paid out.

Detectives also suspect deliberate fouls may have ensured that players were sent-off and their teams then lost.

Bets were made on these teams losing the games by a certain number of goals, more than one, and money was paid out on the result.

Detectives also noted that large numbers of home fans in one part of the country were successfully betting on their own team to lose.

This occurred in a number of games.

Suspicions arose that the matches had been fixed and that those placing the bets knew beforehand what the score would be.

In 2019, the FAI issued a statement confirming investigations into two of Limerick's games, the First Division match at Shelbourne in April of that year, followed by the FAI Cup tie away to Sligo Rovers in August, which Limerick lost 6-2 after being in a two-goal lead.

Speaking following this week's arrests, Detective Superintendent Catharina Gunne of the GNECB said: "Match-fixing... can allow organised crime to infiltrate sport in order to use it to make illicit gains or launder proceeds of crime."

Gardaí are aasking those with information about sports corruption to contact them.

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