Ukraine accuses 35 football clubs of match-fixing
Kiev, May 22 (AFP) Ukraine today accused 35 football clubs of being involved in a match fixing operation than earned organisers millions of dollars a year.
Police said two-thirds of all teams in Ukraine's top divisions took part. Neither perennial champions Dynamo Kyiv nor Shakhtar Donetsk were named.
"Club presidents, former and current players, referees, trainers and commercial organisations were involved," Interior Minister Arsen Avakov wrote on Facebook.
"In total, we have documented the involvement of 320 individuals in 57 proven cases." Avakov said organisers earned up to $5 million (4.2 million euros) a year by making bets in Asia on pre-determined results of Ukrainian matches.
Ukraine's deputy police chief Igor Kupranets separately told reporters that no arrests had been made.
Kupranets added that prosecutors would decide whether and when to bring charges against the suspects.
It was not clear why officials were making the course of their investigation public at such a preliminary stage.
The announcement came as the football world's attention zeroes in on the Ukrainian capital Kiev ahead of Saturday's Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid.
Ukraine failed to make next month's World Cup in Russia after finishing third in its qualification group.
Football in eastern Europe has been mired in match-fixing allegations for years.
Players in the smaller teams and referees earn relatively little money and appear to be easier targets for organisers of unscrupulous bets.
Many of the matches are not shown on television and are more difficult to investigate in cases of a suspected fixed result.
The teams named by the police include this year's third and fourth place finishers: Vorskla Poltava and Zorya Lugansk.
Kupranets said organisers usually made a series of relatively small bets of a few thousands dollars per game.
"They could earn between $10,000 and $100,000 a match without betting on the very top Premier League teams," said the deputy police chief.
"Day after day, in the course of an intense investigation lasting more than a year, we were documenting how these groups worked." Kupranets said the bribes paid to referees and players ranged from around $1,100 to $3,700.
"Today is a historic day for Ukrainian football," Ukrainian Football Federation head Andriy Pavelko said.
"This is the start of a systemic cleanup of Ukrainian football from a problem that was rooted in Ukrainian football for years