10 men arrested in match fixing probe
Gardaí have released nine of the ten men arrested yesterday (Wednesday) in connection with alleged match-fixing in the League of Ireland.
The nine men were released this morning and last night without charge and gardaí have confirmed that the remaining man is still in custody.
The original ten arrests were made yesterday as a result of a day of action carried out by gardaí in the southern region of Ireland, as well as the Dublin metropolitan region.
“I have always been of the belief that there is corruption at every level of football in Ireland. This is only the beginning.”
Those were the words of Cork City FC Supporters Co-Founder Conor O’ Sullivan following the arrest of ten men in connection with match-fixing in the League of Ireland.
The arrests were made yesterday morning, Wednesday, by the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB). A number of homes were also searched.
The men, aged in their early 20s to early 60s, were arrested as part of a planned operation in the southern and Dublin metropolitan regions.
The operation was supported by resources attached to the Limerick and Cork city garda divisions.
Speaking to the Cork Independent, Mr O’Sullivan said he found the news “hardly surprising” considering the disconnect the average Irish person feels from the FAI compared to other sports organisations.
He said: “With the state of funding and the lack of management of the Irish football scene for the last 20-30 years, no wonder the opportunities to carry out match-fixing still remain.
“When people’s ambitions for monetary gain outweigh the ambitions they have for success, then the fundamentals of football as a whole are under threat.
“From grassroots to senior positions in the FAI, without complete overhaul and redirection, we will continuously get worse.”
Following their arrests, the ten men were detained at various garda stations in the southern region and the Dublin metropolitan region.
Yesterday’s garda ‘day of action’ was a result of 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).
Commenting after the arrests, 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,” she added.
There have been numerous incidents of alleged match-fixing in Irish top flight football.
In 2017, the FAI launched an investigation into alleged match-fixing surrounding a friendly match between Bray Wanderers FC and Waterford FC.
In 2019, the FAI investigated a League of Ireland First Division match between Cobh Ramblers FC and Limerick FC after a suspicious spike in betting activity.
Responding to yesterday’s arrests, an FAI spokesperson said: “The Football Association of Ireland notes the latest developments in the garda enquiry into alleged match fixing.
“The FAI, in conjunction with UEFA, remains committed to a zero tolerance policy on match fixing. As this is now a legal matter, we will be making no further comment.”