Soccer fans can breath easy, finally, because the sport's biggest villain (who doesn't already play for Real Madrid) has been defeated. Dan Tan, the alleged head of a Singaporean crime syndicate responsible for fixing over 600 matches, including World Cup qualifiers, was arrested Wednesday.
Fourteen people were arrested in Singapore for their part in a crime syndicate responsible for fixing hundreds of matches worldwide, thanks to a joint operation between the city state's police department and the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau. Singaporean authorities won't confirm whether or not Tan was arrested, but Declan Hill, who literally wrote the book on soccer match fixing, reports Tan was caught in the bust.
Europol, Europe's joint police force, announced in February the preliminary results to their long-gestating investigation into soccer match fixing, and the results were not good -- roughly 680 matches were fixed, 300 of them in Europe, including World Cup qualifiers, Euro qualifiers, and even Champions League matches. Millions of dollars allegedly changed hands between 425 match officials, club officials, players, and crooks identified in the four year investigation. "This is a sad day for European football," said Rob Wainwright, the director of Europol.
And don't think American soccer is clean just because no American matches were identified in the report. ESPN's Outside the Lines believes a U.S. Men's National Team game against El Salvador may have been poisoned by the same crime syndicate. (The U.S. won the game and the El Salvador squad is being investigated for match fixing, but still.)
Singapore received extradition requests for Tan from Italy and Hungary over a year ago, and now Hill wonders why it took so long for authorities to arrest him. He's also worried the delay gave Tan enough time to destroy the evidence against him. While those questions swirl, the soccer world can at least relax and know the man behind the sport's biggest scandal is, hopefully, caught for good.