Police raids in 7 countries in Belgian football probe

  • Police raids in 7 countries in Belgian football probe

Police raids in 7 countries in Belgian football probe

Police have carried out raids in seven countries as Belgian prosecutors targeted the country's biggest football clubs as part of an investigation into fraud and match-fixing.

The remaining 13 operations were spread out between France, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Montenegro, Serbia and Macedonia.

"Today [Wednesday], the federal police conducted a search at RSC Anderlecht", the club said in a statement.

Anderlecht have also confirmed they were raided.

Standard Liege confirmed they made all requested documents available during a two-hour search of their premises on Wednesday morning.

"A large number of people were deprived of their freedom and taken away for thorough interrogation".

Lokeren have also said they are co-operating with the investigation after officers spent three-and-a-half hours with the club, but nobody was needed for questioning.

Club Bruges' manager, Ivan Leko, is being questioned, along with prominent Belgian-Iranian agent Mogi Bayat.

During their investigation, the authorities concluded there was evidence of the "influencing of competitions in the 2017-18 season", using this to expand the probe to include a look into match-fixing.

The inquiry comes only three months after Belgium's national team reached the World Cup semi-finals and beat England to finish third at the tournament in Russian Federation.

The prosecutor's office confirmed the raids in a statement, which read: "The judicial investigation concerns activities in the framework of a criminal organisation, money laundering and private corruption".

Some of the house searches were carried out at the homes of club directors, football agents, referees, a former lawyer, a trainer, journalists and at an accountancy office.

The raids took place in just about every region in Belgium. It involved 184 police officials in the country and 36 in the other European nations.

Some agents were suspected of hiding commissions on transfers, players' pay and other payments from the Belgian authorities, the prosecutors said.

The searches overseas were chiefly at offices and residences of people used to set up the suspect transactions, the prosecutors said.