Two matches in the Europa League first round qualifiers have been referred to European football’s governing body for questionable betting.
One was Armenia’s Alashkert 6-1 win over Montenegro’s Arsenal Tivat and 7-2 on aggregate. Another Latvian team, RFS, beat North Macedonia’s Macedonia GPN 4-1 in the other second round match, winning 5-1 on aggregate.
Suspicious betting patterns are of concern as they may indicate match-fixing or manipulation, misuse of insider information or other wrongdoing. Such offense may be committed by a team, or by one or more individuals within a team, or game officials. There is no suggestion that anyone involved in the game will be an accomplice.
“In line with long-standing practice, UEFA refrains from commenting on investigations or possible investigations into alleged matches in order to avoid undermining investigation procedures,” the organization said in a statement. “Regarding anti-match-fixing activities at national level, UEFA provides extensive expertise to its national associations and, in particular, to the network of integrity officers appointed within each national association.”
The two games were played on July 20. None of the four teams will take part in the 2021 UEFA Conference League group stage, as the two winners Alashkert and RFS were eliminated in the next round. Champions League and Europa League.
“Our club always produces only the highest standards on and off the field. A spokesman for the Latvian RFS spoke to a spokesman for the Latvian team. “We always prove everything on the field. The two games against Macedonia where we won and went to the next round were no different from our side. That’s all we can comment on.”
The other three clubs – Alashkert, Arsenal Tivat and Macedonian GP – did not respond to requests for comment.
The Conference League consisted mainly of participants from UEFA’s lower tier members and was won by Roma and West Ham United in the first two seasons.
Although the tournament has been praised for spreading the UAF tournament’s season and prize money to countries that do not normally benefit from it, experts have warned that the tournament carries a high risk of match-fixing.
“There’s a great mix of countries and little-known teams,” said Chris Rasmussen, professor of sports betting integrity at the University of New Haven. “It is difficult for the bookmaker to set the right odds.”
The teams participating in the qualifiers are playing unusually high-stakes games, which fall in the middle of the summer when no competitive men’s soccer can be played.
Betting patterns on “exchanges” can be tracked through publicly available resources, showing how people around the world bet on certain outcomes and thereby move the odds.
Rasmussen said the two games in question had clearly questionable betting patterns.
This was quickly noticed by many insiders and experts in the world of sports integrity, prompting the matches to be reported to UEFA.
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