November 20 – More than 30 close-season friendly games in Cyprus during 2016, 2017, and 2018 were allegedly fixed, according to local reports citing a probe by a Romanian member of the European Investigative Collaborations (EIC), a widespread media network.
The scam reportedly involved fake referees who were part of an intricate match-fixing network involving agents, investors, and players.
Starting from January 2016 and running over three years, at least eight individuals from Romania, Portugal, and Latvia went to Cyprus to officiate friendly matches organised by company based in Famagusta in the Turkish-controlled north of the island.
According to the Cyprus Mail newspaper quoting from the investigation, five of the referees were untrained but former and active players.
The friendlies reportedly hosted 15 teams from Russia, three each from Poland and Cyprus, two each from Serbia, Czech Republic and one each from Switzerland, Belarus, Slovakia, Moldova, Romania, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Latvia and Hungary.
The Cypriot company who arranged the games, according to the report, “is strongly suspected to be connected to Eric Mao, a 36-year-old FIFA agent and club investor from China.”
Most of the so-called officials have played in clubs where he was an agent. EIC has described him as “a senior match fixing organiser and leader of a Singaporean match-fixing syndicate”.
“Through his company Anping, Mao has been an investor in minor league clubs in Europe for over four years, and his entourage has been involved in match-fixing scandals in Ireland, Latvia, the Czech Republic and Romania,” said the EIC-linked report.
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