Belgian authorities have carried out a series of raids and arrests at football clubs across the country linked to investigations into financial fraud and possibly match-fixing.

The federal prosecutor’s office said 44 raids were being held in Belgium and 13 more in France, Luxembourg, Cyprus, Montenegro, Serbia and Macedonia.

The prosecutor’s statement said a year-long investigation shows evidence of “suspect financial operations” by sports agents and indications “of possible influencing of games” over the last season.

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“Match-fixing undermines the integrity of sports. The Justice Department is working for a fair sport,” justice minister Koen Geens said.

The inquiry comes only three months after Belgium’s national team reached the World Cup semi-finals and beat England to finish third at the tournament in Russia.

According to local media, Belgium’s best known agent, the Brugge coach Ivan Leko and a former Anderlecht club official were among those being questioned.

“Agents, referees, a former lawyer, an accounting office, jewellers, journalists” were among those hit by the raids, authorities said without specifying names.

The investigation centres on “activities relating to a criminal organisation, money laundering and private corruption,” the prosecutor’s office said.

The raids involved 184 police officials in Belgium and 36 in the other countries.

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