By Andrew Warshaw
October 15 – French authorities have confirmed they are investigating potentially one of the most damaging and high-profile allegations of match-fixing to hit the European game.
The claims concern Red Star Belgrade’s 6-1 Champions League defeat at the hands of Paris St. Germain on October 3 and specifically that a Red Star official, via accomplices, was suspected of placing a bet of almost €5 million for the Serbian club to lose by five goals.
The French National Finance Prosecutor (PNF) is investigating the claims, first reported by L’Equipe, after being alerted by UEFA.
Both clubs have denied any wrongdoing but reports allege that an informant tipped off UEFA about the rigging ahead of the game in Paris and that members of Red Star’s starting line-up might have been in on the scam.
Dismissing the very idea as scandalous, a strongly worded Red Star statement declared: “FC Red Star with the highest anger and abomination rejects the story.
“The article can harm and bring big damage to our club’s reputation and that is why we insist that UEFA and investigators in Serbia and in France investigate the whole story and get the truth.
“Today’s technologies and other mechanisms are so improved that it is basically impossible to leave this case unsolved. Red Star expects to get the truth at short notice and remove any doubt about our involvement in possible wrongdoing.”
Red Star honorary president Dragan Dzajic told L’Equipe: “This is the first that I have heard of it. It is not possible, it is untrue.”
PSG led 4-0 at halftime and altogether had 35 shots, 17 of which were on target. But in their own statement, PSG expressed their “amazement and indignation”.
“Paris Saint-Germain reiterates its commitment to a fundamental principle of sport, that of the integrity of competitions and therefore refutes any form of practice that could call into question that integrity.”
“The club categorically rejects any and all direct and indirect implication in relation to these suspicions and would like to point out that at no moment has PSG been approached by the national financial court in charge of the investigation.
“PSG remains at the disposal of the investigators and will not tolerate the slightest attack on its reputation, nor that of its officials. To that end, the club reserves the right to take legal action against any party that makes defamatory statements against the club and/or its officials.
“The club reaffirms its profound attachment to the fundamental principle of sport, which is and always will be the integrity of its competitions.”
The fixture in question is part of a tough Champions League group which also contains Liverpool and Napoli and could end up going down to goal difference or head-to-head results to make the knockout phase.
UEFA were not prepared to speculate at this point, a spokesperson quoted as saying: “UEFA never comments on potential, or the existence of, investigations into alleged match-fixing so as to not compromise the process of such investigations.
“UEFA only communicates on specific cases/matches once disciplinary proceedings have been opened and/or decisions have been taken.”
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