Three arrested in new Latvian soccer match-fixing probe

The Latvian State Police have detained three people in a criminal case concerning possible match fixing in Latvian soccer, the State Police's Chief Ints Kuzis told a press conference on October 9.

The LETA news agency said it had information that one of the persons detained is Olegs Gavrilovs, former president of Daugavpils football club Dinaburg, who is already disqualified for life from Latvian football and is also a suspect in another criminal case on match fixing. The next hearing in that criminal case is scheduled for December 23 at Daugavpils Court.

Kuzis told the media that the police wanted the main organizer behind the match fixing scheme to be held in custody, but the court released him on EUR 30,000 bail. Kuzis said that the State Police would look into the origin of the money.

He also acknowledged that the persons involved in the case had been on the State Police's radar for similar crimes. Although Kuzis did not reveal the identity of any of the detainees, he said that all three were residents of Latvia. He also said that the criminal case dealt with match fixing in Latvian Football Championship.

Kuzis stressed it was important to understand the fact that match fixing was impossible without player involvement. Accordingly, he urged all football players who are offered to sell a match to report such offers to the authorities. He also said that match fixers were most often located in Asia, not in Latvia or elsewhere in Europe.

Interior Minister Sandis Girgens (KPV LV) said that the State Police, Interior Ministry, Latvian Football Federation and UEFA (Union of European Football Associations) wanted to send out a clear signal that match fixing would not be tolerated. He stressed that the ongoing criminal case was just the first step in the fight against match fixing.

Latvian football has been dogged by match fixing scandals over the last decade. As investigative show De Facto reported two years ago, obscure Latvian matches can become the subject of large international bets and have attracted the repeated attention of UEFA officials monitoring signs of betting rings and match fixing. You can read more about efforts to crack down on match fixing at a dedicated section of UEFA's website.

Meanwhile the national soccer team is hoping to provide a more positive piece of news as it faces Poland in an important match Thursday night, though given the strength of the opposition and a dismal run of form recently, it's a big ask.

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