Corruption scandal in Belgian football
Police in Belgium have raided the offices of ten top-league football clubs as part of a major probe into tax fraud, money-laundering and match-fixing. They arrested numerous prominent suspects, including Ivan Leko, manager of Belgium's reigning champion FC Brugge. What consequences will the probe have for football in Belgium and across Europe?
A bomb has exploded
The reputation of the sport is at stake here, De Standaard warns and calls for a major purge:
“There have long been rumours of games being 'sold'. But proving that is and will remain difficult. It's telling that the public prosecutors came across clues pointing to irregularities in the course of an investigation into tax fraud. It's incomprehensible that the penal code still doesn't cover match-fixing - this makes the presenting of evidence and punitive action even more difficult. ... The future will show whether the bomb that has now exploded will have as much of an impact as the banking crisis ten years ago. In other words, whether it will finally lead to rules being imposed on the football jungle.”
Investigations could be salutary
Finally football is being cleaned up, La Libre Belgique writes in delight:
“This is all about the negative developments in professional football, which has become a vast global market where everything - starting with people - can be bought, sold, and negotiated. Everything there happens by means of huge financial and tax deals that make even the giants of the financial and industrial world pale in comparison. And at the centre of this vile game are the naive fans, who despite everything still believe in the beauty of the sport and are ready to pay (and dearly) to applaud its stars. ... To that extent the Belgian judiciary's kick in Belgium's football anthill could be a salutary shock.”