BRUSSELS, May 7 (Reuters) - The Belgian Football Association is probing alleged irregular betting of over $1 million on Anderlecht’s 4-1 league win over Sint Truiden last month, which was a key game in the race for the final Champions League spot. “The FA has launched an investigation into Anderlecht’s first division match at home to Sint Truiden following allegations by Club Bruges chairman Michel D‘Hooghe that large sums of money were bet on the match,” Belgian FA spokesman Nicolas Cornu said.
“We are investigating the unusual circumstances in which the game was won and to make sure no wrongdoing took place.”
Anderlecht and Sint Truiden have both denied any wrongdoing.
“I can only say this: Anderlecht has absolutely nothing to do with this affair,” Anderlecht chairman Roger Vanden Stock told the club’s Web site (www.rsca.be).
“If necessary we will work together with the authorities to find the truth and we will go to court to clear our name if necessary.”
Sint Truiden said in a statement that chairman Roland Duchâtelet “wants to emphasise that he has all trust in the players who have nothing to do with this”.
The investigation is a huge blow to the game in Belgium which had only just recovered from a match-fixing scandal in 2006 which led to arrest of over a dozen players and coaches.
A Chinese businessman allegedly at the centre of the betting ring remains on the run and is wanted by Belgian police.
Anderlecht are three points ahead of Bruges in the race for second place and a lucrative Champions League spot with one game remaining.
Both were level on points going into Anderlecht’s meeting with second-from-bottom Sint Truiden on April 25 during which the 2007 champions found themselves 1-0 behind with 10 minutes remaining, but scored four times before the end.
D‘Hooghe, a member of FIFA’s executive committee, contacted the FA after he received information that over $1.2 million was bet on the match in Asia.
According to the FA, the highest amount money bet on a first division game in the last two years was $400,000.
There are also question marks surrounding the Anderlecht goals, with the FA investigating allegations of offside and also that one goal was given despite a foul by an Anderlecht player.
“The investigation will take some time as we need to talk to everyone involved, players, coaches and referees and also get the necessary evidence of the betting patterns,” Cornu said. (Editing by Justin Palmer)