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Indictments for football match-fixing in Hungary

Following a four-year investigation by domestic authorities in cooperation with anti-crime agency Europol, the head prosecutor in Hungary has charged 45 people on charges of football match-fixing.

According to a report from the AFP news service, the alleged match-fixing involved 32 domestic games in Hungary, Finland and Italy as well as a pair of internationals with the prosecutor issuing arrest warrants on Thursday for 44 locals in addition to Singapore national Tan Seet Eng, who is better known by his pseudonym of Dan Tan.

Geza Fazekas from the office the Chief Prosecutor of Hungary stated that four separate trials will now be held due to the large number of people and matches involved.

“The main trial will involve the organisers and ringleaders, those who were liaisons with the Asian syndicate,' Fazekas told AFP.

“The report has been filed with the Budapest court now so we estimate trials should begin within months probably no later than September.”

Current and former players are among those being charged along with referees, club owners, managers and coaches. Budapest soccer team Rakospalotai EAC has been particularly hard hit with 14 present and past members of its staff indicted with the defendants facing prison terms of two to 16 years if found guilty.

The Hungarian prosecutor alleged that games affected by match-fixing included recent domestic league and cup matches along with three top-tier league meetings in Finland and one in Italy.

Describing the match-fixing syndicate's methods, the spokesman for the Chief Prosecutor of Hungary declared that the ring selected matches in which there was ‘a realistic chance’ of manipulating the result via bribing referees or players with defenders particularly targeted. The group then placed large quantities of low-level bets usually around €100 with betting shops around the world.

Michel Platini, President for European football governing body UEFA, stated on Friday that match-fixing and betting were ‘the main problems’ facing soccer and additionally called for the creation of a Europe-wide organisation to police sport.

“We are not dealing with petty criminals looking to make ends meet,' said Platini.

“It seems that we are in some cases dealing with mafia-type organisations that use some games, and therefore our sport, to launder dirty money. One game rigged is one match too many as it strikes at the soul of our sport, the very essence of the game.”

Europol revealed in February that hundreds of games around the world had been targeted by match-fixers linked to crime syndicates in Singapore