MEP: Bulgarian Football Infiltrated by MafiaCrime | September 18, 2012, Tuesday // 17:49| views
File photo of S&D MEP Emine Bozkurt
Bulgaria is among the countries in Europe in which organized crime has infiltrated football clubs, according to Emine Bozkurt, Member of the European Parliament.
Bozkurt has authored a study on the issue of match-fixing and corruption in European sport.
The Dutch MEP's report has pointed out that "strong ties have been detected between the football establishment and criminal organisations, especially in Eastern Europe and the Balkans."
In countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria and Serbia, criminals have infiltrated the clubs and federations and operate from within, while using the clubs as covers for a number of criminal activities, according to a study by the Institut de Relations Internationales et Strat?giques, quoted by EurActiv.
Bozkurt said sport presented a "permanent risk of corruption", due to little regulation, a vast network of online betting markets, and direct links with organised crime.
"Match-fixing might seem like a minor issue, but it is a serious problem in Europe," she noted. "It is a form of crime with high revenues and excessively low sentences and detection rates."
At the end of August, a BBC investigation revealed that Bulgaria's football is deeply involved in mafia businesses, with match-fixing and money laundering being just the tip of a criminal iceberg that lurks beneath the surface of the game.
The BBC investigation was triggered by continuing reports that football in Bulgaria is riddled with corrupt practices including match-fixing and the illegal procurement of European Union passports for overseas players.