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Feb 5, 2013

Liverpool match under suspicion

Liverpool have been thrust into a worldwide match-fixing scandal, with reports emerging that European law enforcement agency Europol are investigating Hungarian side Debrecen after a 2009 Champions League clash.

Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet stated on Monday evening that sources within Europol had confirmed to them that Debrecen were under investigation for their 1-0 loss at Anfield in a group stage match. It is said goalkeeper Vukasin Poleksic was approached to let in at least three goals in order to trigger an 'over 2.5 goals' bet, but on the night Dirk Kuyt's strike was all that separated the teams.

Further to the report, Poleksic received a two-year ban from UEFA for failing to report a match-fixing approach later in the group stage when the Hungarians went down 4-3 to Fiorentina. The Daily Telegraph newspaper claims German police have already established that match was subject to match-fixing from a Croatian-led crime syndicate.

There have been no reports linking Liverpool to any wrongdoing in their fixture, and the club say they have had no official contact from the authorities.

"Liverpool Football Club has not been contacted by anyone from Europol or Uefa in relation to this matter," a club statement said.

The Football Association echoed those sentiments, claiming they are not aware of any matches in England which may be under investigation at present.

"The FA are not aware of any credible reports into suspicious Champions League fixtures in England, nor has any information been shared with us," it said.

Meanwhile, FIFA's head of security and a former Interpol official, Ralf Mutschke, has called for harsh sentences for anyone found guilty in this match-fixing scandal.

"Match-fixing and match-manipulation is a global problem and is not going to go away tomorrow," he explained in the Guardian. Mutschke added that "a member of the football family" can be banned for life by FIFA, while "for people outside of football, the custodial sentences are too weak, and offer little to deter someone from getting involved in match-fixing".