Liverpool Champions League match allegedly fixed

Dirk Kuyt scores for Liverpool - but the match was allegedly the subject of rigged betting. Picture: PA
Dirk Kuyt scores for Liverpool - but the match was allegedly the subject of rigged betting. Picture: PA
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A MATCH played in 2009 between Liverpool and Hungarian club Debrecen has been named by a newspaper as the English-based Champions League match alleged to have been rigged by match-fixers.

Europol - the European Union’s criminal investigations arm - confirmed on Monday that a Champions League match held in England within the last three to four years was amongst games believed to be corrupt, and Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet reported that it was the Anfield side’s 1-0 win during the Champions League group stages.

A club spokesman confirmed on Monday night that no one from Europol or UEFA had contacted Liverpool in relation to the matter.

Ekstra Bladet claimed the match had been mentioned in a Dutch book centring on match-fixing, stressing that Liverpool were not under suspicion. The paper also said that sources from Europol had confirmed that the game was the English-based Champions League match involved.

Police in Germany have already established that a second match involving Debrecen during the same Champions League campaign - their 4-3 loss to Italian club Fiorentina - was also the subject of attempted match-fixing by a criminal gang led by Croatians.

Debrecen’s goalkeeper at the time, Vukasin Poleksic, received a two-year ban from UEFA for failing to report an approach from match-fixers prior to the match with Fiorentina.

Claiming innocence, he appealed the decision in the Court of Arbitration for Sport, but the ban was upheld.

The report in Ekstra Bladet claimed that those attempting to fix the match between Liverpool and Debrecen were trying to influence the betting market for total goals in the match, but failed as fewer goals were scored than they anticipated.

The newspaper claimed that the fixers wanted to ensure there were at least three goals in the match but court papers show that they texted each other to signal frustration at the Anfield side’s failure to score more than once.

It is believed that evidence relating to the match at Anfield was revealed when police based in Bochum, in Germany, were investigating Croatian match-fixer Ante Sapina, who received five years in jail in 2011 for his part in masterminding the fixing of at least 20 matches throughout Europe.

It was this investigation by the Bochum police that made up the core of Europol’s findings announced on Monday.

Police had evidence that £6.9 million of profits had been generated from betting on fixed matches, but admitted that this was probably just ‘the tip of the iceberg.’