Paris St Germain’s (PSG) 6-1 Champions League drubbing of Red Star Belgrade earlier this month is being probed by French police for match-fixing.
French sports daily L’Equipe reports that an investigation was launched following allegations that an unnamed Red Star official placed a €5 million ($5.7 million) mega-bet on the Serbian team to lose by five goals.
The administrative body for European soccer, UEFA, reportedly passed its suspicions to law enforcement after the October 3 game at PSG’s Parc des Princes stadium.
French police confirmed an investigation had been launched but declined to comment on the report.
Belgian Soccer Blows Up
The news comes as Belgian prosecutors on Friday charged 19 people, including two referees, soccer agents, and the coach of Belgian champions Club Bruges, with either engaging in financial improprieties or match-fixing.
When fixing occurs in soccer, it usually happens in the lower leagues, where it’s less likely to be detected and where players are theoretically more corruptible because they earn lower wages.
But the scandal in Belgium suggests this isn’t always the case. Prosecutors suspect two games in the country’s second division of being fixed at the end of last season. They accuse soccer agent Dejan Veljkovic of colluding with officials and referees in a failed attempt to prevent KV Mechelen from being relegated.
But the stage doesn’t get much bigger than the Champions League and if the Red Star allegations are found to be true, it would be the biggest scandal to rock soccer in decades.
No Suspicious Patterns
However, there were none of the obvious hallmarks of a fixed game — a dubious penalty decision, for example -– to suggest the score line might have been manipulated. And if Red Star had been instructed to lose by five goals, why score late in the game when the team was already 5-0 down?
Meanwhile, a bet the size of the one alleged would be difficult to make without arousing serious suspicion, even if it were spread across multiple bookmakers.
French online gambling in France ARJEL monitors the betting markets for suspicious patterns. It told L’Équipe it did not notice anything untoward.
“The allegations from this report can cause great damage to the reputation of our club, and therefore Red Star insists both UEFA and the competent investigating authorities in Serbia and France investigate these doubts to the end and come to the truth,” said a spokesman for Red Star.