Dozens of police raids have taken place in Belgium and six other European nations in a vast probe into fraud and match-fixing in football.
The federal prosecutor’s office in Brussels said 44 raids occurred in Belgium and 13 more in France, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Montenegro, Serbia and Macedonia.
A spokesman said that a year-old probe found evidence of “suspect financial operations” by agents and also indications “of possible influencing of games” during the previous season.
The investigation centres on “activities relating to a criminal organisation, money laundering and private corruption”.
“Match-fixing undermines the integrity of sports. The Justice Department is working for a fair sport,” Justice Minister Koen Geens said.
The probe comes only three months after Belgium’s national team reached the World Cup semi-finals.
“Agents, referees, a former lawyer, an accounting office, jewellers, journalists” were among those hit by the raids, authorities said.
The raids took place in just about every region in Belgium. It involved 184 police officials in the country and 36 in the other European nations.
The statement said some football agents, independent from one another, “would have schemed to hide” transfer commissions, payments of players and coaches, and other payments from the Belgian authorities, causing tax losses.
It was during the investigation that indications appeared that there may have been match-fixing during the 2017-18 season.