PRAGUE - Czech and Slovak police have charged 19 current or former footballers with bribery linked to match-fixing in several competitions in both countries.
"Twelve people have been arrested... in relation to suspected corruption in football, possible match-fixing in different competitions and related punting activities," Czech anti-corruption squad spokesman Jaroslav Ibehej said in a statement yesterday.
"Those arrested were subsequently charged with corruption crimes (bribery and accepting a bribe)," he said, adding that 20 others had been summoned for questioning.
Slovak police chief Tibor Gaspar told reporters seven former and current footballers had also been charged in his country.
"Former top-flight players in particular addressed active players on teams and tried to fix the result or the number of goals scored or other options offered by betting companies."
He said the whole operation was led by "an organiser probably from Asia" who placed online bets with Asian betting firms and paid money to middle-men in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
The middle-men would choose a game, speak with selected players and agree on the result.
If the intermediary stayed in the stands 15 minutes into the game -- by which time the betting firms would have displayed the offer -- the players would fix the result, raking in thousands of euros after the game.
If instead the intermediary left, the players knew the game was not on offer and there was no need to fix it, according to Gaspar.
"On the whole, the group spent at least E210,000 ($F520,312) on the bribes, while the punter earned about 50,000 euros per game," he said.
The group fixed at least 19 games, he added, including top-flight matches of the current season in both countries.