Nine players and coach from Australian soccer team Southern Stars held in match-fix probe
Australian football was rocked yesterday by news that nine players and a coach from one team had been arrested after police uncovered a match-fixing syndicate operating in the top division of the Victoria state competition.
Football Federation Australia said the 10 belong to the Victorian Premier League club Southern Stars and that they face charges under Victoria's Crimes Act.
The Act was amended by the state government earlier this year to include specific offences related to match-fixing.
Police said many of the players arrested were from Britain and playing in Australia in their off-season. They said they would be looking to prosecute members of an overseas syndicate, believed to have been operating throughout Europe.
There was no immediate indication of when the players and coach would be due in court.
Police said the operation had been under way since August, working on information provided by Football Federation Australia.
Those arrested are expected to face match-fixing charges, which can attract a 10-year maximum jail sentence.
Southern Stars president Ercan Cicek said he had no knowledge of any alleged match-fixing. He said five players from England joined the southeast Melbourne-based team at the start of the season at the suggestion of a man who also offered to organise sponsorship.
Cicek said the Stars' coach also provided his services for free this season, telling the club he just wanted a chance to operate at the Premier League level in Victoria.
The Southern Stars have played 21 matches this season, losing 16 and drawing four. Their only win was a 1-0 victory over top-placed club Northcote City in August.