A high-profile League of Ireland footballer, a manager and a player who also holds a role within the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) were among the 10 men arrested last week over alleged match fixing.
The 10 — eight in Limerick, one in Cork and one in Dublin, aged from their 20s to their 60s — were taken into custody on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud. All have since been released without charge.
Among the suspects are current and former players as well as individuals not involved in the game, who allegedly operated together to manipulate matches and place corresponding bets.
The arrests marked the culmination of a three-year investigation by officers attached to the Anti-Corruption Unit in the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB).
The investigation was launched in 2019 after the FAI and Uefa, which represents the national football associations of Europe, submitted reports to gardaí regarding possible match-fixing in two games involving Limerick FC in 2019.
Gardaí will now prepare a file to be sent to the DPP, who will decide whether criminal charges are to be laid.
The Sunday Independent understands one of the arrested men is a well-known League of Ireland footballer who plays for one of its most successful clubs.
Another is a manager of a team in a lower league. Yet another works for the FAI in a development role.
When contacted, a spokesperson for the association said: “The FAI and Uefa operate a zero-tolerance policy towards match-fixing, and the heaviest punishment possible will be served on anyone found guilty of match-fixing in the current investigation.
“The FAI and Uefa first alerted gardaí to the current incident back in 2019 and have co-operated fully with the garda investigations.”
The spokesperson said all clubs must organise a presentation that outlines the law in relation to match-fixing.
“As part of the club licensing process, all clubs in the League of Ireland must host an integrity presentation for all their players, conducted by FAI Integrity Officer Fran Gavin,” the spokesperson said.
“It outlines the FAI regulations regarding betting and gambling, the context of betting within football, both international and domestic, and the law relating to match-fixing.
“The presentation also studies case histories and suspensions and provides information and advice on confidential reporting platforms and phone numbers for any player with concerns who wishes to contact the FAI, Uefa or Fifa.”
The garda investigation into alleged match-fixing at League of Ireland matches involves a “number of games” that date back to 2016.
The investigation is focusing on matches involving Limerick FC, and several of those arrested had connections to that side.
Seven of the men arrested in a series of dawn raids on Wednesday morning are footballers or former footballers. Two still play in the League of Ireland and had been expected to be involved in significant fixtures this weekend. Five of the men arrested have retired from playing.
Gardaí are satisfied that the alleged betting scam is not linked to wider organised criminal gangs.
The statements taken from the 10 men will be examined, cross-checked and analysed against evidence already gathered, including phone and financial records.
Detective Superintendent Catharina Gunne of the GNECB said last week: “Match-fixing and corruption is a threat to all sport at all levels and undermines public confidence in the fairness of sport. It can allow organised crime to infiltrate sport and use it to make illicit gains or launder proceeds of crime.”
Gardaí had examined unusual betting patterns in a number of matches where they suspected deliberate fouls were committed. Losing certain games by a certain number of goals was also examined.
Another factor noticed was that large numbers of home fans in one part of the country were successfully betting against their own team.