Referee one of five charged in Belgian corruption probe
A referee and four other people have been charged following an investigation into football corruption in Belgium, the public prosecutor confirmed on Thursday.
Agent Dejan Veljkovic, referee Sebastien Delferiere and officials from Mechelen and Waasland-Beveren had match-fixing charges levelled against them.
Mogi Bayat, also an agent, has been accused of setting up schemes in order to get money out of Belgium to disguise payments received or paid to players, along with Veljkovic.
Top-tier clubs, agents and referees were among those targeted by police on Wednesday, as an anti-corruption investigation – which was started in late 2017 – was ramped up.
It is alleged Veljkovic tried to fix two matches towards the end of the 2017-18 Pro League season in an attempt to save Mechelen from relegation.
According to the prosecution's spokesperson, Wenke Roggen, two matches were identified as suspicious by investigators.
The first saw Antwerp run out 2-0 winners over Mechelen's fellow relegation battlers Eupen on March 3, with a penalty given for a foul outside the box.
The second match was eight days later on the last day of the regular competition, as Mechelen defeated Waasland-Beveren 2-0, though the 1988 European Cup Winners' Cup champions were relegated anyway because of Eupen's 4-0 hammering of Royal Excel Mouscron.
Although Delferiere was not an official for either game, the prosecution claims Veljkovic contacted him in an attempt to influence refereeing matters.
"The investigating judge charged four persons with criminal organisation and active and passive private corruption," Roggen said at a news conference. "A fifth person has been additionally charged with money laundering.
"The investigation, among other things, focuses on the Antwerp-Eupen match of the penultimate competition day, 3 March 2018, and on the Mechelen-Waasland Beveren match of the ultimate competition day of the season, 11 March 2018.
"The investigation contains indications a broker in the players market, Dejan Veljkovic, in connivance with four members of the board of football club KV Mechelen having directly or through friendly contacts influenced the final score of these two matches."