UEFA set to meet 9 nations over match-fixing probe

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> Top football officials from nine countries embroiled in a match-fixing scandal will meet with European governing body UEFA on Wednesday.

Updated: November 25, 2009 17:18 IST
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Nyon, Switzerland :

Top football officials from nine countries embroiled in a match-fixing scandal will meet with European governing body UEFA on Wednesday.

UEFA spokesman Rob Faulkner said national associations and leagues were invited to a briefing because their domestic matches are among 200 suspected of being fixed in an organized betting operation.

Games in Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia, Switzerland and Turkey are believed to have been manipulated.

Also under suspicion this year are three qualifying round matches from UEFA's elite Champions League competition and 12 from the second-tier Europa League. A qualifying match for the Under-21 European Championship is also on the list.

"We are meeting to go through the information we have got and talk them through the process of how we have been involved," Faulkner said on Tuesday by telephone. "It's a criminal investigation and as such we are bound by the prosecutor's office in Germany as to the information we can disclose."

The meeting will be led by UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino and Peter Limacher, its head of disciplinary services who joined German police in Bochum last week to reveal the scale of Europe's biggest football corruption investigation.

Police said more than 50 raids were conducted in Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Britain and that evidence, euro1 million ($1.48 million) in cash and other valuables were seized.

Swiss League president Thomas Grimm said that the probe could have "devastating consequences" for European football.

"We can only act preventively and call on the honesty and fairness of all the people concerned, and stay vigilant," Grimm told the Berner Zeitung daily.

While no Swiss top-tier matches are currently suspected, Grimm said he had no illusions about how far the alleged corruption could spread.

"Betting is about so much money that unfortunately we can't exclude anything," he said.

Swiss second-division clubs Gossau and Thun have both suspended a player who was questioned by police.

National associations would have responsibility for bringing disciplinary cases against any player proven to have helped fixed a match or who took money from criminal gangs.

Infantino said last week that UEFA would demand "the harshest of sanctions" for any individuals, clubs or officials implicated in match-fixing.

In April, UEFA issued life bans from involvement in football to the president and former captain of Macedonian club Pobeda who were judged to have manipulated the outcome of a Champions League qualifying round match in 2004.

Pobeda was banned from entering UEFA's club competitions for eight years.

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