Moldovan football appears to have been hit with a match fixing scandal. The German football magazine Kicker reported that 12 players were arrested following a game between Dacia Chisinau and Dinamo-Auto Tiraspol. Immediately following the match, officers of the Moldovan National Anti-Corruption Agency (NAC) stormed the changing rooms of both teams arresting seven players from Dinamo-Auto Tiraspol, and five players from Dacia Chisinau.
Dinamo-Auto’s head coach Igor Negrescu, Dacia’s vice president Ruslan Kmit, and Dacia sporting director Muhajir Polonkoev were also questioned by the authorities. Dinamo-Auto has since released a statement on their homepage stating that they considered the raid by the Anti-Corruption Agency as illegal: “After the match, armed members of the Moldovan National Anti-Corruption Agency came into our dressing room.” Furthermore, the statement reads: “without any explanation and without any reasoning, eight members of Dinamo-Auto were apprehended (seven players and a coach) in Chisinau where they were taken for questioning.”
Dacia is owned by the Ingushetian businessman Adlan Shishkanov, who made headlines in 2007 when he attempted to take over the German club Carl Zeiss Jena. While his takeover of Jena was unsuccessful due to licencing regulations of the DFL (the body that manages the 1. and 2. Bundesliga) that do not allow individuals to own clubs, he has since left a mark in Moldovan football.
As well as owning Dacia, he has built a network of football clubs in the country, among them Dinamo-Auto Tiraspol to which Dacia has loaned several players. He has also been the financial backer of the Russian club FC Angusht Nazran, which plays in the Russian Professional Football League, and is located in Ingushetia.
Those football “networks” are a common occurrence in post-Soviet football. In neighbouring Ukraine for example Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk owner Ihor Kolomoyskyi is linked to various clubs throughout the country, and Shakhtar owner Rinat Akhmetov has recently been linked with a possible takeover of the Serbian club FK Vojvodina. In Moldova the owners of FK Sheriff Tiraspol are even rumoured to own city rival FC Tiraspol.
While these networks are often used as a development system in which young players can more easily be loaned out, they also provide fertile ground for match fixing, money laundering, and corruption. Especially as shared ownership of football clubs makes it easy to arrange results between two clubs ahead of time.
The same day the NAC raided the changing rooms of Dacia Chisinau, two Singaporeans were also arrested for an alleged attempt to fix a match that involved Moldova’s under 21 team. As ProTV Chisinau reported the Singaporeans tried to bribe officials from the Moldovan Football Federation with €50,000. NAC prosecutor Eugen Balan said: “They tried to influence decision-makers from the Moldovan Football Federation to fix under-21 matches in order to win money from gambling.” The bribe was to ensure that Belgium would win the match with a three-goal margin. But according to Kicker Magazine the two Singaporeans were also involved in the Dacia vs. Dinamo-Auto affair.
At this point the match-fixing scandal unearthed in Moldova appears to be just the tip of the iceberg. Considering the way that football networks are set up in the post-Soviet space, these forms of scandals are not surprising, as they make it easy for the large betting syndicates in Eastern Europe and Asia to negotiate results between different football clubs.
By Manuel Veth–