Complex case | 

Seven footballers among those arrested in League of Ireland match-fixing investigation

Two of the arrested men are currently playing in the league, it has emerged
Ken Foy and Paul Hyland

Seven of the men arrested this morning in connection with an ongoing investigation into alleged match fixing in the League of Ireland are footballers, or former footballers.

The Sunday World can reveal that, of the ten men arrested in the “highly complex investigation”, two are currently still playing football in the League of Ireland.

Five of the arrested men have retired from playing football.

Among the three arrested men who were not players, one of them is a close relative of an arrested former player.

Senior sources say that one club is “at the centre of the investigation” which is being carried out by the Anti-Bribery and Corruption Unit in the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB).

The GNECB have been working on the case for almost three years.

“What has been looked at very closely is all kinds of suspicious bets in the course of a number of matches including goals scored, goals conceded, fouls, the quantity of corners and other bets,” a senior source said.

“This has been a highly complex investigation in which there has been a number of phones seized and then analysed and there has been a massive trawl of gambling records,” the source added.

It is understood that two games in particular played in 2019 have been the focus of the probe.

No arrests were made, but a number of devices were seized and these have been examined by specialist detectives in a process that lasted for over two years.

This morning, the GNEB carried out what has been described as a "day of action" in relation to alleged match-fixing in the Irish senior men's soccer league.

As part of the planned operation in the Southern Region and Dublin Metropolitan Regions, 10 men, aged from their early 20s to 60s, were arrested and a number of residential properties have been searched under ‘Operation Brookweed’.

Gardaí said the operation was supported by staff attached to the Limerick and Cork City divisions.

Investigators said the men have been arrested on suspicion of the offence of Conspiracy to Defraud contrary to Common Law and are currently detained under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984 at various stations in the Southern Region and Dublin Metropolitan Region.

Gardaí said the operation stems from an investigation carried out by detectives attached to the Anti-Bribery & Corruption Unit in 2019, following reports of suspected match-fixing received from the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) and Union of European Football Associations (UEFA).

In a statement, the FAI said: “The Football Association of Ireland notes the latest developments in the Gardai enquiry into alleged match fixing.

"The FAI, in conjunction with UEFA, remains committed to a zero tolerance policy on match fixing. As this is now a legal matter we will be making no further comment.”

Discussing today's operation, Detective Superintendent Catharina Gunne, from the GNECB, said: "Match-fixing and corruption is a threat to all sports at all levels and undermines public confidence in the fairness of sport.

"It can allow organised crime to infiltrate sport in order to use it to make illicit gains or launder proceeds of crime”.

Gardaí are appealing for anyone who has any information in relation to match-fixing or sports corruption to contact them.

Members of the public can share information in confidence with the Anti-Bribery and Corruption Confidential Reporting line on 1800 40 60 80 or their local Garda Station.

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