Police raids in 7 countries in Belgian football probe

Police raids in 7 countries in Belgian football probe

Belgian authorities say 57 police raids are ongoing in Belgium and six other European nations in a wide-reaching investigation into financial fraud and match-fixing in football.

Police also raided properties in France, Luxemburg, Cyprus, Montenegro, Serbia and Macedonia, prosecutors said in a statement.

According to Belgian daily De Standaard, an investigation has been launched into "financial fraud and money-laundering in the world of football".

In addition to Club Brugge and Anderlecht, the offices of 10 other clubs have reportedly been raided, including top of the table Genk.

It was during the investigation that indications appeared that there may have been match-fixing during the 2017-18 season.

"The house searches this morning [Wednesday] were conducted at several football clubs active within the Jupiler Pro League".

Along with searches at "various football clubs", the prosecutor's office said club committee members, agents, referees, a former lawyer, an accountancy bureau, coaches, journalists and possible accomplices were also under investigation.

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"A large number of people have been deprived of their liberty and taken in for a thorough interrogation", the prosecutors said, adding that a judge would later decide who should be held in custody or formally arrested.

"The house searches overseas mainly took place at the houses of foreign legal entities that would be used to set up the suspicious financial transactions".

Anderlecht confirmed they are working with police, with their dealings with unnamed player agents investigated.

A statement from Oostende said that a swift search of their offices had taken place but no-one from their club was questioned. "The club is co-operating fully with the investigation and will make no further comments".

The chairman of champions Club Brugge, Bart Verhaeghe, told Flemish TV channel VTM Nieuws: "Club Brugge will give full cooperation to the investigation and has nothing to hide". Everything is pure. Of course, we are cooperating. "The investigators want to see contracts and invoices, which we have given, which will show that everything is clean and in order".

Anderlecht have also confirmed they were raided.

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