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Belgian match-fixing scandal sees 20 charged on criminal offences

By Samindra Kunti

October 16 – Local authorities have charged 20 suspects in the corruption scandal that has engulfed Belgian football. Agents Mogi Bayat and Dejan Veljkovic, FIFA referees Bart Vertenten and Sébastien Delferière, and Brugge coach Ivan Leko are among they key suspects. Charges range from money laundering and criminal organisation to bribery. 

Last week police carried out dozens of raids in Belgium and across France, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Montenegro, Serbia and Macedonia in a wide-ranging corruption scandal that exposed the rot in Belgian football.

Federal prosecutors targeted a number of high-profile agents, referees, journalists and suspected matches of the 2017/18 to have been fixed for betting related match-fixing.  Antwerpen vs Eupen and KV Mechelen vs Waasland Beveren are two top tier matches under investigation.

The prosecutor’s office revealed that a year-long probe into football showed evidence of “suspect financial operations” by sports agents and indications “of possible influencing of games” over the last season.

Some of those charged, including Club Brugge coach Ivan Leko, have been released under terms. Key suspects Mogi Bayat and Dejan Veljkovic, both agents, who wielded plenty of influence at various Belgian clubs in recent years, remain in detention and have been charged with criminal organisation and money-laundering. Veljkovic also faces bribery charges. In total six agents remain as suspects.

FIFA referee Vertenten is also still in police custody and is charged with criminal organisation and bribery. His colleague Delferière was released, but charged with similar criminal offences and money-laundering. Three journalists were also charged.

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