Brussels, Belgium: Police carried out raids in seven countries Wednesday as Belgian prosecutors targeted the country's biggest football clubs as part of an investigation into fraud and match-fixing.
A total of 220 police officers carried out 44 house searches across Belgium as well as in France, Luxemburg, Cyprus, Montenegro, Serbia and Macedonia, Belgian prosecutors said.
"A great number of persons have been deprived of their liberty and taken in for a thorough interrogation," the statement said.
Federal prosecutors told AFP that the arrests included well-known football agent Mogi Bayat, the former manager of Sporting Charleroi, who had been arrested in his home.
Bayat, a 44-year-old Belgian-Iranian, was the main target of the probe, Belgian media reports said, along with another agent and clubs with which they did business.
Belgian media, including public broadcaster RTBF, said police had conducted searches in the premises of ten clubs including Anderlecht, Club Brugge and Standard Liege.
At Standard Liege, reports in Le Soir daily said police seized contracts involving players Obbi Oulare, Michel Preudhomme and Dino Arslanagic that were all linked to Bayat.
Le Soir reported that prosecutors also confirmed the arrests of Herman Van Holsbeeck, former head of Anderlecht, the current Club Brugge coach Ivan Leko, and referees Bart Vertenten and Sebastien Delferiere.