The FA’s probe into betting patterns around a yellow card picked up by Granit Xhaka was passed on to the National Crime Agency a few months ago after a six month investigation and the NCA are now probing links to the Albanian mafia.
It should be made clear from the outset that Granit Xhaka is not being investigated, rather, it is the pattern of betting that emerged around a yellow card he picked up for timewasting against Leeds United last season.
At the time, an unnamed industry expert told the Mail that the patterns of betting were highly unusual, and also added, “The trading in the 10 minutes prior to that yellow is nothing like I have ever seen before.
“It looks unusual but the most plausible thing is that it is the perfect storm of punters opposing each other rather than fixing.
“I have got to emphasise it is people losing money as well as winning.
“I don’t think Premier League footballers on £175,000 a week are fixing, even to the slightly larger amounts you can win on exchanges.”
FA sources told the Mail that, privately, they doubt Xhaka even knew about the spot bets.
After an investigation that lasted six months, the FA handed their information over to the National Crime Agency with the Daily Mail stating there are suspicions of a ‘major scandal’.
The National Crime Agency is tasked with investigating organised crime.
According to a further update from the Daily Mail, the NCA are now said to be investigating “an alleged criminal conspiracy involving the Albanian mafia and an ex-professional footballer who has been convicted of match-fixing.”
The ex-footballer is believed to be Alban Jusufi, a Swedish-Albanian who was handed a five-year ban for match-fixing after he was found guilty of “bribing AIK goalkeeper Kyriakos Stamatopoulos £150,000 to underperform ahead of a derby against IFK Gothenburg in 2017.”
In regards to Xhaka, the Mail stress that “there is no suggestion of wrongdoing on his part, nor is it clear who may be implicated in any conspiracy,” although that’s not strictly true.
When this story first broke at the start of 2022, there were some media outlets who were very keen for people to have the impression that Xhaka was somehow involved.
The whole affair initially centred around a £52,000 bet that was placed during Arsenal’s match against Leeds for Xhaka to get booked in the final 10 minutes of the match. The amount won was said to be around £250,000.
Now, however, the NCA are also believed to have turned up evidence of large sums being wagered in cryptomarkets that are not regulated here.
In the 86th minute of that game against Leeds, Xhaka was booked by Andre Marriner for taking too long over a freekick.
While the Mail cover their ass by saying Xhaka is not suspected of any wrongdoing, they also added in an earlier article that, “video footage of the incident shows Xhaka standing over the ball deep in his own half for around 20 seconds with no apparent desire to take the free-kick before he is booked.”
In their latest article, however, they have repeated that statement but have removed the “with no apparent desire to take the free-kick” part.
The FA have not opened an investigation into Granit Xhaka.
Arsenal have declined to comment.