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Mass arrests in Turkey in football match-fixing probe

24 March 10 23:06 GMT
By Jonathan Head
BBC News, Istanbul

Turkish police have arrested 46 people in connection with a Europe-wide football match-fixing scandal which first broke in Germany four months ago.

The arrests were made in 26 towns and cities across the country. Among those detained are a number of well-known players and coaches.

German investigators believe some 200 matches in 11 countries were fixed by players and referees.

They believe gamblers have made at least 10m euros (£9m) on this.

Big business

These are the first suspects to be taken into custody in Turkey, where football has a passionate following.

Among those detained are a number of well-known players and coaches, including Arif Erdem, one of Turkey's most renowned international stars until his retirement five years ago.

He has since been the assistant coach for the Turkish premier league club Istanbul Buyuksehir Belediyespor.

It is unclear what charges the suspects might face, but they are being investigated by the smuggling and organised-crime department of the police.

Allegations of match-fixing have swirled around Turkish football for years, but as there is no law against it arrests are rare.

However, the investigation in Germany of what is thought to be Europe's biggest ever match-fixing racket has pushed Turkish prosecutors to go after those they believe have been rigging league games here.

Some 30 matches are believed to have been fixed in Turkey.

Football is a huge business in Turkey, with the top 20 clubs earning around $5.5bn (£3.7bn) last year.

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