Turkish Match-Fixing Ring Involves At Least One Player Betting Against His Own Team

This is the craziest soccer story you will hear all day, and yes, this is a day in which we already wrote about players getting pepper sprayed on the field. A little mace in the face is nothing compared to getting locked up in prison for fixing matches that your team is playing. ↵

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↵The BBC has the story that more than 40 people were arrested in Turkey this week in connection to an international soccer match-fixing ring. The report indicates that this latest string of arrests is in conjunction with a German raid that brought down 15 people last November. The kicker of this week's raid? It involves Turkish professional players betting against their own teams. ↵

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↵⇥[The arrests] included several big names in Turkish football, including the former international Arif Erdem. ↵⇥

↵⇥Erdem, who now coaches at the Turkish premier league club Istanbul Buyuksehir Belediyespor, has since been released and denies the allegations. Among those now charged, according to Turkish websites, is Recep Ozturk, a goalkeeper who plays for Konyaspor. ↵⇥

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↵One of the ringleaders of this most recent group of cheats is a man named Ante Sapina, who was arrested in Germany in 2005 for bribing a referee to fix matches. Sapina was one of the crew arrested in November as well. Investigators recorded – and shared with the BBC – transcripts of telephone conversations between members of this syndicate while they were discussing different betting strategies in the hours leading up to certain games. Bettors were tipped off early on which matches that week would be fixed, at one point being told they are "200% certain" of the outcome of a particular match. Per the BBC's report, these transcripts have Ozturk placing a bet that his own team will lose. ↵

↵Several men of Turkish decent were among those arrested in November in Germany, and one of them – a man looking for bail to see his child born – told investigators, "among other things that he was sent to Turkey by Ante Sapina with a jacket containing 100,000 euros in cash to give to contacts there; he also admits to allowing Ante Sapina, after his release from prison, to open a betting account in his name." ↵Finally, the report offers that this investigation has already included people in nine countries. Just in time for the World Cup, too. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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