EXCLUSIVE | Canadian soccer match fixed by global crime syndicate
Toronto semi-pro players bribed to lose against Quebec team
CBC News has learned details of how a European crime syndicate bribed Canadian soccer players to fix a semi-professional game between Trois-Rivières and Toronto teams as part of an international match-fixing scheme to make money from online bets.
In an exclusive story led by CBC's senior investigative reporter Diana Swain that airs tonight on The National, CBC News reveals evidence of the match-fixed Canadian Soccer League game that surfaced in hundreds of hours of police wiretaps obtained by CBC News from a German court case on one of the largest sports-fixing scandals to hit Europe.
At least one game in the CSL, a semi-pro league operating in Ontario and Quebec as a feeder system for Canadian major league clubs, was compromised by match fixing, according to the German wiretap transcripts.
Wiretaps show the crime syndicate targeted a Sept. 12, 2009, game in Trois-Rivières between its home team, Attak, and the Toronto Croatia.
Court documents show that €15,000 ($18,000 Cdn) in bribes were paid to several players on the Toronto Croatia team.
Former Trois-Rivières player Reda Aggouram, who played in that game, told CBC News he had no idea that some players on the Toronto Croatia team were being paid to manipulate the game, but he does remember scoring an easy goal.
"I remember my goal, it was the free kick for us," said Aggouram. "One of our players took the free kick, and then the goalie, he didn't punch it away, he punched it in front of the net, and then I took the rebound."
The German court found that the Europe-based crime syndicate had manipulated a number of games, ranging from a Champions League contest to a qualifier for the 2010 World Cup.
The Canadian Soccer League, which is largely run by volunteers, was unaware of the verdict when approached by CBC News, even though it happened months earlier.
To date, six people have been convicted due to their roles in the match-fixing syndicate. The stiffest sentences were handed down to Ante Sapina and Marijo Cvrtak, both of Croatia, who were each sentenced to 5½ years behind bars in May 2011.
Four others were convicted and sentenced to terms ranging from a suspended 18-month sentence to three years in jail.
Sapina and Cvrtak have appealed their convictions.
Six other men are currently on trial in Germany.
The syndicate manipulated domestic league games around the world, including Canada, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Turkey, Hungary, Slovenia and Croatia.
No charges have been laid in Canada. Ontario Provincial Police and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said that no formal complaints have been filed with them.
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With files from Ben Rycroft, Alex Shprintsen and Joseph Loiero