Eight football referees of 16-team Georgian football league have been arrested in connection with alleged spot-fixing in matches, the Interior Ministry said on September 24.
The scheme, according to the Interior Ministry, involved so called spot betting in which odds are offered to number of yellow and red cards, as well as on penalties or other incidents during the match.
Eight referees, among them a FIFA referee qualified to officiate at international level, are accused of taking cash ranging from USD 2,500 to USD 5,000 in exchange for securing favorable number of bookings in matches they were officiating.
Georgian Football Federation said in a statement that the investigation was launched after it requested “for number of times” from the law enforcement agencies to probe into “information received from UEFA about suspicious matches in the Georgian national championship.”
The Interior Ministry also released on September 24 several video recordings, made secretly with what seems to be body-worn covert cameras; in one of the undated recordings, a man with body-worn camera, who appears to be an undercover agent, is negotiating with one of the referees favorable number of yellow cards he had to show in one of the Georgian Premier League matches.
The Interior Ministry said that investigation is ongoing as some other referees are also suspected of being involved in spot-fixing scam.
There are over three dozen of referees and assistant referees available for the Georgian Premier League, nine of them (3 referees and 6 assistant referees) are on FIFA international men’s referees list.
“There have long been rumors about it,” Zviad Sichinava, president of the Georgian Football Association, said about spot and match-fixing allegations.
He stressed that the investigation should continue, but instead of focusing only on referees the probe should widen in order to also include much wider circle of illegal betting groups.