Match-Fixing Scandal Sees Irish Police Arrest 10 for Involvement in Plot

Posted on: May 18, 2022, 09:51h. 

Last updated on: May 18, 2022, 09:58h.

Police in Ireland continue to uncover elements of extensive match-fixing through an investigation that began three years ago. They arrested 10 more people today, but more arrests are likely.

Football Association of Ireland
The headquarters of the Football Association of Ireland. The soccer organization is in the middle of a match-fixing scandal that may have been larger than anyone realized. (Image: The Irish Times)

Since 2019, an investigation into alleged match-fixing involving League of Ireland games, dubbed Operation Brookweed, has unraveled a number of possible violations. The latest arrests are further examples of the systemic corruption in the soccer organization. It mimics a similar scandal surrounding soccer in Argentina.

The men range in age from 20 to 60. They were taken into custody in raids in Cork, Dublin, and Limerick. Their betting habits were dead giveaways – they were fans betting against their own teams.

Unraveling the Mystery

The men face charges of conspiracy to defraud as part of Operation Brookweed. Leading the investigation is the Anti-Bribery and Corruption Unit of Ireland’s Garda, its national police force. They face questioning, and police can hold them for up to 24 hours for interrogations.

In September 2019, the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) seized Limerick FC players’ phones. That June, officials with the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) had interviewed the club’s players about a particular game. That incident included a former official from Interpol. However, no one presented any allegations at the time.

At the time, the FAI confirmed that they had opened investigations into Limerick’s matches. The First Division match at Shelbourne was in April, followed by the FAI Cup in August. Limerick lost the tie to Sligo Rovers 6-2 after having a lead of two goals.

The investigation was the result of information UEFA, the European soccer governing body, provided to the FAI. The FAI stated in their September 2019 statement that the investigation was similar to the one underway into the Shelbourne-V Limerick First Division match.

Enhanced technology and greater data collection facilitate better analysis of sports wagers. The International Betting Integrity Association and similar organizations are more adept at recognizing questionable betting patterns.

Uncovering Unusual Bets

Once they launched the investigation, detectives began to paint a worrisome picture. This included suspicions that players deliberately committed fouls that led to the issuance of red cards in games, or to teams intentionally losing a match.

The case also includes wagers on teams that lost by a specific number of goals—usually, more than one. Investigators also noticed a trend of large numbers of fans from a particular region placing bets on a negative outcome for their team.

A reliable source said that some of the 10 police arrested are also players. Police conducted due diligence on bank accounts, as well as phone and IT records, through their searches. This helped them gather additional evidence to support the match-fixing charges.

Garda officials from the Southern Region and the Dublin Metropolitan Region led today’s raids. Accompanying them were officials from the Limerick and Cork City Divisions.

Today, the FAI stated in a short statement that it, along with UEFA, was committed to a zero-tolerance policy on match-fixing. After that, however, it wouldn’t comment further on the issue.