Tuesday, 17 September 2013 00:00
(Reuters):Australian police have charged six men, including several Britons, as the result of an operation to smash an international matchfixing ring centred on a second-tier club in suburban Melbourne.
The multi-million dollar racket, embroiling the head coach and a number of players at Victoria Premier League team Southern Stars, had links with betting syndicates in Malaysia and Hungary, police told a Melbourne court on Monday.
Police named Malaysian national Segaran "Gerry" Gsubramaniam and Britons Joe Woolley and Reiss Noel among the six charged with rigging matches in the 12-team league in Victoria state.
Goalkeeper Woolley and Noel both played for AFC Hornchurch in London before leaving the club in July to play for the Stars. Police declined to name the other three charged.
Gsubramaniam, 45, was described by police as the linchpin of the Australian operation and a go-between between the team and off-shore betting syndicates.
"... On a worldwide scale (Gsubramaniam) is not the bigwig, Australian-wise he is," Detective Scott Poynder told the court.
Gsubramaniam was considered a flight risk, police said, and had been remanded for another bail hearing on Friday. Woolley and Noel, along with the other three charged, would also appear at the same court on Friday, police said.
Those charged could face sentences of up to 10 years in prison if found guilty of matchfixing.
The charges follow the arrests of 10 people across Melbourne on Sunday in an operation sparked by a report of irregular betting patterns surrounding Stars matches.
Four of the arrested were released pending further enquiries.
The case has sent shockwaves across sports-obsessed Australia, where rival football codes have already been rocked by anti-doping investigations involving players, coaches and officials in recent months.