Deportivo La Coruna's - Levante ended with 4-0
03th May 2013

Deportivo, who are fighting relegation from La Liga, scored three times in 16 first-half minutes at Levante.

Midfielder Javier Barkero was reported by local media to have accused some of his Levante team-mates of not trying.

"Any game where there's suspicion will be investigated," a Spanish football league spokesman said.

The match under investigation saw Juan Carlos Valeron opened the scoring for Deportivo La Coruna in the 11th minute.

Pizzi doubled the lead after 19 minutes, before Nelson Oliveira made it 3-0 eight minutes later.

Bruno Gama completed the scoring in the 91st minute.

Levante, who are 12th in La Liga, issued a statement on its website saying it will "help and collaborate with any investigation".

"Levante is an institution that ensures fair play and fighting for full transparency in the competition," the statement added.

"The board believes in the professionalism and integrity of all the players of the first team, who have been involved in major sporting achievements of our history."

Everton gain point, Arsenal 0 - Everton 0
16th April 2013

Arsene Wenger had mused that “momentum can be fragile” as he considered Arsenal’s recent upturn and the need for another victory to turn the screw still further on Chelsea and Tottenham in the Champions League race.

On a night of wrecking-ball intensity his team duly had theirs checked while David Moyes’ mission to break new ground with Everton and win at a big ground came up short.

The margins were suffocatingly tight. In what amounted to a slug-fest, clear chances were at a premium but the Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud had two and on each occasion, towards the end of either half, his sights were awry.

He became the symbol of Arsenal’s frustrations, almost as much as the punch that Jack Wilshere aimed at Kevin Mirallas during a tunnel bust-up following a fractious first-half.

The feeling was that Arsenal had handed the initiative back to Tottenham.

Still, points were always likely to be dropped or shared during the run-in and Everton, who remain four points behind Arsenal, are hardly the accommodating types.

Form team They might never have won at Arsenal, Manchester United or Liverpool under Moyes, but their heart cannot be questioned. Everton had arrived as the form team in the division and there was a muscular strut to their game.

Nobody gets an easy ride against Moyes’ side, even though they had felt the pre-match spotlight pick out their inability to win the big ones when it mattered.

Moyes had started with Ross Barkley in the No 10 role – a show of faith in the young player – and he was in tune with the ethos; work ferociously and give no quarter in the tackle.

First half challenges from Barkley resulted in first Santi Cazorla and then Wilshere feeling sore. Barkley, though, was not the only source of Arsenal bruises. It was confrontational stuff. Everton refused to allow Arsenal time on the ball.

The surface Passions frequently bubbled to the surface and Darron Gibson trod the finest of lines. The Everton midfielder was booked for a challenge on Theo Walcott, although it had seemed that Mirallas, who was also in close attendance, had been the aggressor and Gibson was fortunate to avoid a second yellow card on 34 minutes when he checked Walcott.

Moments later Steven Pienaar was booked when he checked Walcott as he burst away.

Everton had started brightly and Pienaar lifted over the crossbar from Phil Jagielka’s pass. Barkley’s curler towards the end of the first-half forced Wojciech Szczesny into a routine save .

Arsenal offered nothing until the 42nd minute but the chance that Aaron Ramsey’s cross created for Olivier Giroud was arguably the best of the first half.

Giroud slid in at the near post but with Tim Howard advancing, he diverted wide.

Cazorla was also thwarted by a brave Jagielka. The tension was palpable. Mirallas drove at Szczesny upon the second-half restart while Cazorla forced Howard into his first save with a well-struck drive shortly afterwards.

The action pulsed and the referee needed eyes everywhere. Giroud’s battle with Jagielka and Sylvain Distin was especially robust but across the field there were scraps that drew the eye.

Marouane Fellaini, all upper-body strength, emerged with honours. Arsenal struggled for rhythm in the second half, too, with Wilshere labouring to fire his team. It was no surprise when Wenger substituted him. Walcott did not last the distance either.

Everton could point to Barkley’s fizzing, curled effort midway through the second half, which flew inches past the angle, with Szczesny beaten, as evidence of their offensive punch. But Giroud ought to have done much better when he fired over after Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s pass had initially created the chance.

European match-fixing 360 matches
4th February 2013

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A wide-ranging match-fixing investigation has uncovered more than 380 suspicious matches — including World Cup and European Championship qualifiers and two Champions League games — and found evidence that a Singapore-based crime group is closely involved in match-fixing.

"This is a sad day for European football," Rob Wainwright, head of the European Union police organization Europol, said Monday, referring to the sport Americans call soccer. He said the investigation uncovered "match-fixing activity on a scale we have not seen before."

The probe uncovered €8 million ($10.9 million) in betting profits and €2 million ($2.7 million) in bribes to players and officials and has already led to several prosecutions.

Wainwright said the involvement of organized crime "highlights a big problem for the integrity of football in Europe."

He said a Singapore-based criminal network was involved in the match fixing, spending up to €100,000 ($136,500) per match to bribe players and officials.

It was not immediately clear how many of the matches mentioned Monday have been revealed in previous match-fixing investigations in countries including Germany and Italy.

Wainwright and other officials and prosecutors declined to identify any of the suspects, players or matches involved, citing their ongoing investigations.

He said while many fixed matches were already known, the Europol investigation lifted the lid on the widespread involvement or organized crime in rigging games.

"This is the first time we have established substantial evidence that organized crime is now operating in the world of football," he said.

Wainwright said there is now a "concerted effort" across the soccer world to tackle the corruption.

European Soccer's Master of Match-Fixing
3th February 2013

A few minutes’ walk from Berlin’s famed Kurfürstendamm, with its designer stores and stately plane trees, is an unremarkable, louche-looking drinking establishment called Café King. The bar stools and booths are black leather; the lighting is bordello red. On the walls are framed photos of assorted world landmarks: the Brandenburg Gate, the Eiffel Tower, the Kremlin. Football matches play on the numerous televisions.

Berlin is an indifferent sporting city. In a soccer-mad country, its teams are league doormats that Berliners mostly ignore. Yet in the local sports scene, such as it is, Café King was once a hub. Players from soccer team Hertha BSC hung out there, as did basketball players from Alba Berlin and members of ice hockey team Eisbären Berlin (the Berlin Polar Bears). The cafe’s owner, Milan Sapina, knew the athletes and made them feel welcome. The place could get rowdy after games.

On an evening in early March, however, the cafe was calm, and Milan, 47, sat glumly in a booth, drinking tea. He was just back from the industrial city of Bochum, in Western Germany, where he’d appeared in court for his role as an accomplice to his younger brother, Ante.

Ante Sapina is one of the most notorious sports bettors in Europe. In 2005 he was sentenced to nearly three years in prison for match-fixing, and two years ago he was convicted a second time for the same crime. He has confessed to rigging soccer matches all over the Continent, paying off players and referees to throw games and then making millions of dollars betting on the outcomes. Prosecutors at his latest trial detailed how Sapina and those working with him spent at least $2.7 million in bribes to players, referees, and league officials. They gave evidence in Sapina’s trial of 43 fixed matches and say the total number the group rigged is more than 300. The ring sometimes scheduled professional games themselves—paying for the visiting team’s travel and accommodations—just so they could manipulate the outcome. They went so far as to buy their own team so they could order it to lose. The case has been called the biggest sports-fixing bust in European history.

Milan Sapina’s legal troubles didn’t stop him from offering a seat to a reporter and politely answering questions in Croatian-accented German. (Because he is appealing his conviction, Ante Sapina declined through his lawyer to be interviewed for this article.) Milan’s own role in the operation, he says, was primarily as a host, facilitating meetings, often at his bar, between gamblers and players or referees. Some of the players liked betting on their own teams, he says, and they traded tips—who was injured, who had been out drinking the night before the match. “Betting works like the stock market,” Milan says. “The key is knowing more than the bookmaker. And sometimes,” he shrugs, “bets go a bit beyond what’s allowed.”

Over the past few years, international soccer has suffered a series of match-fixing scandals. In a press conference last month, Europol, the European police intelligence agency based in the Hague, announced that it had found 680 suspicious matches worldwide from 2008 to 2011, including games in some of Europe’s most prestigious leagues. In Italy, players from 22 teams were accused of fixing matches, and many have been suspended. The president of the South African Football Association was suspended last December for allegedly rigging international matches; the Finnish soccer league suspended a former champion club for match-fixing; and a top Hungarian team, Debrecen, has been investigated by European soccer’s governing body for throwing a game in the UEFA Champions League. In Italy, a goalkeeper on third-division club US Cremonese allegedly put sedatives in his own team’s water bottles to ensure they lost; one of his teammates crashed his car on the way home from the game.

According to investigators at Europol and Interpol, most of this corruption is being driven by Asian criminal syndicates: Gangs based in places such as Singapore see match-fixing as a low-risk alternative to revenue streams like drugs and prostitution, and prosper by betting millions on one rigged game. The Sapina case, however, is a European operation, and it shows a different side of the epidemic. It turns out you don’t need to be a gang kingpin to make it big in the match-fixing business. All you need is a head for numbers, an Internet connection, and an eye for human frailty.

Ante Sapina was born to Croatian immigrant parents in 1976 in the German city of Duisburg, near the Dutch border. According to court documents, he became a committed and industrious gambler in his early teens, placing wagers under the names of his older brothers, Milan and Filip, because he was underage. Sapina also played soccer well enough to make it onto a local semipro team called SD Croatia Berlin. By the time he was in college, studying economics at Technische Universität Berlin, he was gambling online nearly every day. In 2000 he won 100,000 deutsche marks (around $50,000 at the time), on a single “breakthrough” wager. Two years later he dropped out of school to gamble full time.

Champions League tie games was fixed'
1st February 2013

European police did not reveal the identity of the match they believe was corrupt in England.

But Europol did say that they had uncovered an organised crime syndicate based in Asia that was co-ordinating the operation. Some 425 match officials, club officials, players and criminals are suspected of being involved.

At a news conference in The Hague, Netherlands, Europol claimed:

- The fixed Champions League tie in England took place in the "last three or four years";
- The identity of that match cannot be revealed due to "ongoing judicial proceedings";
- Other "corrupt" matches included World Cup and European Championship qualifiers and "several top football matches in European leagues";
- In Germany-based matches alone, criminals wagered £13.8m (16m euros) on rigged matches and made £6.9m in profits. Officials fear this is as the "tip of the iceberg";
- In total 380 suspicious matches were in Europe and a further 300 in Africa, Asia and south and central America.

Rob Wainwright, director of Europol - the European Union's law enforcement agency, said:"This is the work of a suspected organised crime syndicate based in Asia and operated with criminal networks around Europe.

"It is clear to us this is the biggest-ever investigation into suspected match-fixing in Europe. It has yielded major results which we think have uncovered a big problem for the integrity of football in Europe.

"We have uncovered an extensive criminal network."

Europol, which has been investigating for 18 months, said suspected matches included World Cup and European Championship qualifiers, two Champions League ties and "several top football matches in European leagues".

In addition to the £13.8m wagered on Germany-based matches, payments of £1.73m are thought to have been paid to those involved.

Financial details were not given from the other countries said to be involved, except that the biggest payment to an individual was in Austria for a total of £121,000.

Europol believes a crime syndicate based in Singapore was liaising with criminal networks throughout Europe, adding that match-fixing has taken place in 15 countries and 50 people have so far been arrested.

In total, 30 countries and close to 700 matches worldwide were examined.

Many of the allegations involved matches in lower divisions around Europe.

German police described a global network involving couriers ferrying bribes of up to £86,000 per match around the world, paying off players and referees.

Most cases have been discovered in Germany where 14 people have been jailed for a total of 39 years.

Criminal convictions have also been secured in Finland, Hungary, Slovenia and Austria.

It is understood Uefa is similarly unaware of an investigation into a Champions League match in England.

A Europol spokesman said he was unable to comment when asked why neither the FA nor UEFA had been informed.

A Uefa spokesman said it would co-operate with the investigation though. He said: "We will be liaising with Europol in relation to any reports of match fixing in European competition."

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