Anderlecht among the clubs being investigated by Belgian prosecutors
10 October, 2018, 20:11
The federal prosecutor's office says 44 raids were being held in Belgium and 13 more in France, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Montenegro, Serbia and Macedonia.
Brugge chairman Bart Verhaeghe confirmed his club are also being investigated, though he is confident they have nothing to hide.
Among the top clubs to have been searched are Anderlecht, who have won Belgium's first division 34 times, their fierce rivals Club Brugge, and one-time European Cup Winners' Cup finalists Standard Liege.
"This action is part of a judicial inquiry into the practices of certain players' agents".
Lokeren have also said they are co-operating with the investigation after officers spent three-and-a-half hours with the club, but nobody was needed for questioning.
Belgian broadcasters VRT and RTBF said searches had taken place at leading teams including Anderlecht, Club Bruges and Standard Liege.
"Match-fixing undermines the integrity of sports".
Club Bruges' manager, Ivan Leko, is being questioned, along with prominent Belgian-Iranian agent Mogi Bayat.
The investigation centres on "activities relating to a criminal organisation, money laundering and private corruption", the prosecutor's office said.
The unexpected probe comes only three months after Belgium's national soccer team reached the World Cup semifinals and ended up finishing third at the tournament in Russian Federation.
The offices of Anderlecht and Club Brugge, Belgium's two largest football clubs, were among those raided on Wednesday as managers, referees and agents were questioned as part of a massive police operation into corruption claims.
The raids took place in just about every region in Belgium.
The raids involved 184 police officials in Belgium and 36 in the other countries.
Some agents were suspected of hiding commissions on transfers, players' pay and other payments from the Belgian authorities, the prosecutors said.
The investigation, which began past year, will focus on "suspicious financial transactions" in Belgian professional football during the 2017-2018 season, according to Belgium's VRT News.
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