Czech football has been engulfed in a fresh scandal following the charging of a dozen current and former players with match-fixing. Police say the bribery occurred at various levels of the game, though most of the matches under investigation were in the second division and at junior level.
After months of investigation, the Czech police swooped on Wednesday, searching 15 homes and making 12 arrests across the country. Detectives detained both active and former players in the operation. Jaroslav Ibehej is the spokesman for the anti-corruption unit of the police.
“I can say that we detained 12 football players on Wednesday from various tiers of Czech football, and charged them with bribe giving and bribe taking. Another 20 people were summoned for questioning. I can also say they are suspected of match fixing in various football competitions, and of betting on these games. But I cannot be more specific right now.”
The police have not released the names of the accused or their clubs. However, at least one first division club, Teplice, has been implicated in the scandal. Its director, František Hrdlička, said the police had on Wednesday questioned several of its first team players. Teplice defender David Jablonský reportedly missed a training session on Thursday as he was being questioned by detectives in Prague.
But the match-fixing seems to have taken place primarily in the Czech second division and the junior league. According to media reports, several players from second division club Ústí nad Labem and third division side Roudnice nad Labem are among those detained in the operation.
The scandal goes back to last autumn when the Czech Football Association came across some suspicious results and asked the police to investigate. Roman Berbr is deputy chair of the FA.
“Last September or October, we received irrefutable evidence that something was happening in the second division and the junior league, and we asked the police to step in. The investigation got underway in October.
“In May, the police told us their investigation was ongoing and was to conclude before the end of the year. So it seems that yesterday was the day when the operation concluded, and we are now waiting to see the results.”
The Czech betting association says its members can detect suspicious activity and that none would have taken bets on the games in question. The bets might have been placed with online agencies based abroad, possibly in Slovakia, where some arrests have also been made.
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