REUTERS - Fourteen people thought to be members of an organised crime ring involved in soccer match-fixing have been arrested in Singapore, law enforcement authorities said on Wednesday.
A joint statement from the Singapore Police Force and the Corrupt Practises Investigation Bureau said 12 men and two women had been detained after an operation lasting 12 hours.
"Police confirm that the suspected leader and several other individuals who are the subject of ongoing investigations in other jurisdictions for match fixing were among the persons arrested," the statement said.
Interpol, the France-based international police co-operation organisation, commended the arrests.
"Singaporean authorities have taken an important step in cracking down on an international match-fixing syndicate by arresting the main suspects in the case, including the suspected mastermind; no person should doubt Singapore's commitment to fighting match-fixing" Interpol secretary general Ronald K. Noble said in a statement.
European anti-crime agency Europol said in February that a Singapore-based syndicate had directed match-fixing for at least 380 matches in Europe alone in a multi-million euro operation.
Matches were said to include Champions League ties and World Cup qualifiers.
World governing body FIFA has warned that match-fixing is threatening soccer on a global scale and has handed down heavy punishments to players and officials found guilty.
In April three Lebanese officials were dropped from refereeing an AFC Cup match in Singapore, hours before kickoff.
Referee Ali Sabbagh was jailed for six months in Singapore for accepting sexual favours to fix the game between Singapore's Tampines Rovers and India's East Bengal.
FIFA also issued global bans on players from Estonia and Tunisia as well as match officials from Armenia in connection with attempts to manipulate games.
(Reporting by Martyn Herman in London, editing by Ed Osmond)