The 2018 FIFA World Cup has definitely got our emotions up. If you are not a fan of soccer, at least you would have enjoyed following the largest, and according to FIFA President Gianni Infantino, most successful derbies on the planet held in the most unlikely place – Russia. But following the general success of the competition, even if the tournament itself was a bit drab for the non-soccer lovers, Interpol also had some reasons to be happy.
Interpol and the Asian Game
Interpol has been particularly satisfied with the results Asian police forces achieved fighting illegal betting activities across the region during the World Cup. According to a Friday release, Operation SOGA VII, which pooled the efforts of police agencies from a number of countries, including China, Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia, Singapore, and Thailand, did an exemplary work of clamping down on illicit sports betting businesses.
The operation was no trifle affair either with nearly 15,000 raids carried out by police forces, which lead to the seizure of $1.6 billion worth of punts placed on the World Cup. During these raids nearly 1,000 computer units were also confiscated from the guilty parties along with an impressive number of mobile phones. Nearly 1.7 million were also taken in ready cash found on the culprits at the time of the events.
Even though Interpol did not specify how effective its operation has been compared to others before that, the agency took time to clarify that in the seven SOGA operations so far, nearly 30,000 individuals have been arrested and $57 million in ready cash has been seized along with shutting down 3,700 gambling dens.
Interpol has been particularly active in digging up illegal sports betting operations and buffeting them. During previous raids, though, the agency has been a sliver more willing to talk numbers. Instead, Interpol remained laconic about the results this year, focusing on the overall success of the fight against illegal bookmakers.
A Victory for the Agency
Interpol didn’t fail to point out that the successes of the operations stemmed from the ability of the agency to coordinate cross-border operations and help regional forces identify and uproot the guilty parties. China and neighbors have been particularly opposed to sports betting and while the World Cup has had a strong pull, the local authorities are quite inventive and well-prepared to tackle even the most innovative forms of illicit sports betting activities.
As mentioned, in previous operations, Interpol have been happier to announce the exact numbers of its successes. For instance, back in 2014, the agency managed to apprehend 1,400 individuals and seize $12 million in cash. Later, during the 2016 UEFA European Championships, Interpol also acted quickly leading to the arrests of 4,100 individuals.
What immediately stands out, however, is that the FIFA has itself been long buffeted by corruption scandals. Many of its executives have been sentenced to jail and a handful have deceased since news broke out about the alleged power brokering going behind-the-scenes.
FIFA has had a difficult time restoring its credibility and awarding the hosting rights to Qatar for the upcoming 2022 tournament has come under a veil of suspicion.