SOCCER

Arsenal: Granit Xhaka’s booking against Leeds under investigation amid suspicion of betting scandal

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EXCLUSIVE: Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka’s yellow card against Leeds is being investigated by the National Crime Agency amid suspicion of a MAJOR scandal over suspicious betting activity in his booking

  • Granit Xhaka was booked for wasting time in Arsenal’s 4-1 win over Leeds
  • The FA carried out a six-month investigation into the yellow card in December
  • They referred the case to the nation’s top organized crime agency
  • The FA have been alerted to suspicious betting patterns in relation to the booking
  • There were no suggestions of wrongdoing by Arsenal or the player himself

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The mysterious booking of Granit Xhaka during Arsenal’s Premier League win at Leeds last season is being investigated by the National Crime Agency amid suspicions of a major betting scandal.

The FA conducted a six-month investigation and referred the case to the country’s top organized crime agency in a development that indicates serious concerns about corruption and possible criminality.

The FA have opened their investigation after being alerted to suspicious betting patterns over a yellow card shown to Xhaka towards the end of Arsenal’s 4-1 win at Elland Road on December 18.

There has never been any suggestion of wrongdoing by Xhaka or any other Arsenal player.

The alarm was raised by an unusually large bet of around £52,000 placed during the game on Xhaka to be booked in the final 10 minutes despite Arsenal winning 4-1.

The Swiss midfielder was cautioned by referee Andre Marriner for wasting time in the 86th minute as he delayed taking a free kick.

The FA conducted a six-month investigation into Granit Xhaka’s booking against Leeds

The issue of suspicious betting patterns has been referred to the National Crime Agency in a development that indicates serious concerns about corruption and possible criminality

The issue of suspicious betting patterns has been referred to the National Crime Agency in a development that indicates serious concerns about corruption and possible criminality

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 was cautioned.

The suspicious bet was placed on a betting exchange – a website that allows users to place bets but also take them from other users – and it was reported shortly after that the bet had returned around 250 £000.

Major bookmakers reported it to the FA due to the large amount of money involved and several industry sources said sports mail that the sum was well above what is usually wagered on yellow cards.

Another bizarre aspect of the incident was that the odds offered on the betting exchange for Xhaka to be booked were higher in the last 10 minutes than they were before kick-off, which also raised integrity issues.

The suspicious bet was placed on a betting exchange which allows users to place bets but also take them from others, with the bet winning a payout of around £250,000.

The suspicious bet was placed on a betting exchange which allows users to place bets but also take them from others, with the bet winning a payout of around £250,000.

The FA has not opened any investigation into Xhaka’s conduct, but reportedly passed the information it gathered to the National Crime Agency. The 29-year-old has a poor disciplinary record for Arsenal, having been booked 10 times and sent off twice last season. Xhaka has been cautioned or sent off in more than a quarter of his appearances for the club.

Proven cases of spot-fixing are rare in this country, although Lincoln City defender Bradley Wood was banned for six years in 2018 after being found guilty of deliberately being booked twice during his run to the FA Cup quarter-finals the previous season.

Texts revealed that Wood hatched a plan with seven friends. The plotters could win £10,000 for two different bets, so the money wagered would have been a few thousand pounds, far less than in the Arsenal game.

The FA declined to comment.

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