Belgian soccer teams raided in vast match-fixing, fraud probe

Club Brugge coach Ivan Leko is reportedly among those being questioned

Police have carried out raids in seven countries as Belgian prosecutors targeted the country's biggest football clubs as part of an investigation into fraud and match-fixing.

Police also raided properties in France, Luxemburg, Cyprus, Montenegro, Serbia and Macedonia, prosecutors said in a statement.

The raids are part of a federal investigation begun in 2017 into suspicious financial activities in the Jupiler Pro League, Belgium's top division.

Among the premises searched were the offices of top-tier clubs Anderlecht and Club Brugge, who are competing in this season's Champions League.

The Belgian prosecutor's office has said it has evidence of "suspect financial operations" by agents and has also uncovered indications of the "possible influencing of games" last season.

Top referees Bart Vertenten and Sebasien Delferière are also speaking to police amid claims of match fixing, according to De Standaard.

Club Brugge coach Ivan Leko spoke to police regarding the situation and was absent from club training on Wednesday.

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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.

"We also carried out house searches of board members of football clubs, players' agents, referees, a former lawyer, an accounting firm, a jeweller, journalists and a number of possible accomplices".

The investigation centres on "activities relating to a criminal organisation, money laundering and private corruption", the prosecutor's office said.

A statement from Oostende said that a swift search of their offices had taken place but no-one from their club was questioned.

The raids took place in just about every region in Belgium, disrupting clubs far and wide.

The raids involved 184 police officials in Belgium and 36 in the other countries.

The investigation, which began previous 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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