Italy: Football Teams Investigated For Money Laundering
Italian police raided the headquarters of about 40 football clubs as part of an investigation into tax evasion and money laundering, Reuters reported.
Authorities seized documents related to player transfers and contracts between players, teams, and agents. Police are looking into more than 50 player transfers made by top Italian football clubs. The Naples court that issued the search warrant said the suspicious transfers may have taken “enormous quantities of cash away from tax authorities,” Reuters reported. A dozen Italian and foreign agents are also under investigation.
Italian authorities stressed that no players are under investigation.
The investigation, dubbed “Sick Soccer” is the latest in a crackdown on match-fixing and other irregularities in European football. Europol in February uncovered an organized crime syndicate linked to match fixing. The investigation revealed attempts to fix more than 350 professional matches, including World Cup and UEFA Champions League matches. The case spanned over 30 countries and highlighted the role of organized crime in what is often seen as a victimless crime.
Transparency International and a number of European football associations joined forces in March to expand the availability of education on the nature and impact of match-fixing. The project is aimed at young players and coaches at professional teams’ youth clubs, and offers them educational materials in a workshop setting.