Over 5,000 people have been arrested in China, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand as part of a World Cup initiative set up to crackdown on illegal betting rings during the tournament.
Nearly $10 million (£6.5 million) was seized during the Asia-wide raids conducted by Interpol [an international policing agency based in Lyon, France], with over 800 illegal gambling dens being systematically identified and spoliated during the month-long campaign.
Operation Soga III, which began on the opening day of the World Cup (June 11th) and ran until the day of the final (July 11th), found that the various dens had handled over $155 million (£100 million) worth of bets during the tournament in South Africa.
Interpol’s chief of police services Jean-Michel Louboutin issued a short statement to confirm the positive results of the operation, as well as acknowledging the impact it may have on organised crime in the region;
“The results we have seen are impressive, not only in the number of arrests and seizures made across the region in just one month, but in terms of the police co-operation which made this possible.
As well as having clear connections to organised crime gangs, illegal soccer gambling is also linked with corruption, money laundering and prostitution,”
The information gathered will now be reviewed and analysed to determine the potential involvement of other individuals or gangs across the region and beyond.”
Louboutin also went on to praise the efforts of the respective police forces involved, insisting that the international cooperation shown will provide a good foundation the future;
“The experience and expertise developed in each of these types of operations provides an even stronger base from which police can work.”
Interpol ran similar predecessors to Operation Soga III back in 2007 and 2008, codenamed (naturally) Soga I and Soga II. In total, the three Soga operations have led to nearly 7,000 arrests and the seizure of more than $26 million (£17 million).
See? Regardless of what the hapless, befuddled, money-grabbing shenanigans of FIFA may lead you to believe, the good fight is being fought by someone out there – on behalf of the footballing community at large.