Soccer is known throughout much of the world as the beautiful game. But the sport's ugliest side - the scourge of match-fixing - will not soon go away.
With the 2014 World Cup in Brazil drawing closer, a European police intelligence agency said Monday that its 19-month investigation - code-named Operation Veto - revealed widespread occurrences of match-fixing in recent years, with 680 games globally deemed suspicious. The list of match types is staggering: some 150 international matches, mostly in Africa, Asia and Latin America; roughly 380 games in Europe, covering World Cup and European championship qualifiers as well as two Champions League games; and a slew of other games that run the gamut from lower-division semiprofessional matches to contests in top domestic leagues.
But officials at the news conference at The Hague repeatedly sidestepped questions from reporters on how many of the 680 matches cited had been previously reported, and, in some instances, previously prosecuted, and how many of them represented new information.
Nor would the officials identify any of the teams and individuals newly linked to match-fixing, citing the need to guard the confidentiality of police procedures.