LONDON, England, February 5- English football was stunned on Monday night by claims that one of Liverpool’s Champions League games was fixed the Daily Mail reports.
Investigators Europol are reported to have identified their 2009 victory over Hungarian side Debrecen at Anfield as one of 380 worldwide to have been successfully targeted by a far eastern betting ring.
Debrecen goalkeeper Vukasin Poleksic was allegedly paid to ensure there were more than two goals in the match — something he failed to engineer.
Liverpool won the game 1-0 and had seven shots on target — including one from Fernando Torres that Poleksic palmed into the path of Dirk Kuyt for the winner.
Steven Gerrard also hit the bar but by the closing 15 minutes manager Rafa Benitez was making defensive substitutions to hold on to the lead.
In text messages recovered by police, the people behind the match-fixing bemoaned the fact that Gerrard missed some presentable chances, according to Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet.
Later on in the group stage, Poleksic was again allegedly paid to fix their match against Fiorentina, which the Italians won 4-3.
The goalkeeper has since been banned from all football activities for failing to report match fixing activities.
The Debrecen game is believed to be one of more than 380 professional matches across the world — including World Cup and European Championship qualifiers and two Champions League games — under investigation by Europol.
They say 425 match officials, club officials, players and serious criminals, from more than 15 countries, are suspected of being involved in attempts to fix matches. Europol declined to specify the Champions League tie under investigation because of ‘ongoing judicial proceedings’.
The English clubs involved have yet to be contacted by Europol and the FA claim they are ‘not aware of any credible reports into suspicious Champions League fixtures in this country’.
Privately, they feel that the claims are ill-founded. There is no suspicion on Liverpool and a club spokesman said: ‘Nobody from Europol has been in contact with us.’
UEFA confirmed they are assisting Europol with the investigation and re-affirmed their ‘zero-tolerance’ policy towards match-fixing.
Rob Wainwright, head of law enforcement at Europol, claimed yesterday that a Singapore-based crime group is involved in the biggest corruption ring in the history of football. More than £6.9million in betting profits and £1.72m in bribes to players and match officials have already been uncovered.