Referee, agents charged in Belgium football scandal

By Fatih Erel

ISTANBUL (AA) – A top football referee and football agents were on Thursday among the first suspects to be charged in a match-fixing scandal in Belgium's top football league.

More than 20 suspects were being investigated in connection with the scandal, according to prosecutors, and police carried out house searches across Belgium, Luxembourg, France, Cyprus, Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia.

Prosecutors said $4 million in cash and $9 million worth of jewelry and watches were found during the searches.

Referee Sebastien Delferiere was among those charged.

Dejan Veljkovic, one of Belgium's best known football agents, is suspected to be involved in a match-fixing scheme with a referee in a failed attempt to save the Mechelen football club from relegation.

Another agent, Mogi Bayat, is suspected of manipulating the transfers of some football players.

Searches were also carried out at the offices of nine clubs: Anderlecht, Genk, Standard Liege, Club Brugge, Kortrijk, Mechelen, Oostende, Sporting Lokeren and Ghent.