Five of 10 men released without charge in League of Ireland match-fixing probe

Among the arrested individuals were a number of well-known current and former soccer players in Limerick which garda sources say threatened the "integrity of the sport"
Five of 10 men released without charge in League of Ireland match-fixing probe

A day of action was carried out by the Anti-Bribery and Corruption Unit on Wednesday in the Southern Region and Dublin Metropolitan Regions. File picture

Five of the 10 men who were arrested this Wednesday morning as part of an investigation into alleged League of Ireland match-fixing have been released without charge.

Among the arrested individuals were a number of well-known current and former soccer players in Limerick which garda sources say threatened the "integrity of the sport".

The other five remain in garda custody this evening.

The ten suspects, aged from their 20s to their 60s, were arrested in early morning raids in Limerick and Dublin, and were being detained “on suspicion of the offence of Conspiracy to Defraud contrary to Common Law”, gardaí said.

The ten men were “detained under Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984 at various stations in the Southern Region and Dublin Metropolitan Region” after gardaí swooped on several residential properties in Munster and Leinster, as part of ‘Operation Brookweed', a “day of action in relation to match-fixing in the League of Ireland”.

A file is now being prepared for the Director of Public Prosecutions and gardaí say investigations are ongoing.

The investigation, led by the Garda Anti-Bribery & Corruption Unit, Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB), began in 2019 following tip-offs from football’s European governing body Uefa to the FAI.

“A lot of them are players, a significant number, and, as a result of a complaint gardaí got (in 2019) about match results and betting patterns, that investigation has been tipping away in the background and lots of work has been going on and it’s now culminated in ten arrests this morning,” said a reliable source.

“Up to eight arrests were in the Limerick area and one or two in the Dublin region, they were all male. It was initially reported to gardaí by the League of Ireland/FAI regarding concerns they had about unusual results and betting patterns, which got attention in 2019.

“Gardaí have done diligence on bank accounts and phone records and IT records which they recovered from the searches.”

The garda source said the investigation focuses on "the whole integrity of the sport".

“Results of games effect placings in the League of Ireland table and it effects what clubs qualify for European competitions so, the ramifications are much bigger than a small group of people and what they are trying to do themselves - there is a much wider impact,” they said.

A garda spokesman stated: “As part of the planned operation in the Southern Region and Dublin Metropolitan Regions, ten males (aged in their early 20's to 60’s) have been arrested and a number of residential properties have been searched. The operation has been supported by resources attached to the Limerick and Cork City Divisions.

“This 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).” 

Detective Superintendent Catharina Gunne, 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 appealed “to any persons who have any information in relation to match-fixing or sports corruption, to make a report in confidence to the Anti- Bribery and Corruption Confidential Reporting line – 1800 40 60 80 — or to their local Garda Station”.

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