Granit Xhaka’s yellow card probed by National Crime Agency after £250k bet win
Granit Xhaka's yellow card for Arsenal against Leeds last December is being probed by the National Crime Agency as a potential major betting scandal.
The FA began investigating the incident earlier this year after being alerted to suspicious betting patterns, and have now handed it over to the country’s leading organised crime agency. Xhaka picked up an odd booking in the latter stages of the Premier League fixture at Elland Road.
Arsenal were winning 4-1 when their midfielder delayed taking a free-kick for roughly 20 seconds, and he was duly cautioned for time-wasting. There has never been a suggestion of any wrongdoing by him or the club.
But the alarm was raised when a bet of £52,000 was placed during the match for Xhaka to be booked in the last 10 minutes. His yellow came in the 86th minute, landing the punter a windfall of around £250,000.
Leading bookmakers reported it to the FA, sparking their six-month long investigation of the booking which has been referred to the NCA. The odds on offer were also of concern, as they had been higher in the final 10 minutes than they had been before kick-off.
Spot-betting – where gamblers stake their money on a specific event happening during a sporting contest – has risen as an issue as the industry has evolved.
Cricket has seen several cases in recent years. Pakistan bowler Mohammad Amir remains the most high-profile after he and two team-mates were given lengthy bans for deliberately bowling no-balls during a Test against England in 2010.
Football hasn't been targeted as much, but there have been examples of spot-fixing before. Former Southampton forward Matt Le Tissier admitted in his autobiography to trying to "make a few quid on the time of the first throw-in" in a 1995 game against Wimbledon, something which he failed to do.
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