- The arrests include the suspected leader of an organized crime group
- Interpol: Arrests "an important step" in cracking down on match-fixing
- Earlier, European police officials announced a huge investigation
- They said hundreds of games were under suspicion
In a crackdown on football match-fixing, Singaporean authorities have arrested more than a dozen people they suspect of being members of an organized crime syndicate.
The arrests come amid a global effort to uncover corruption in the sport, which European police officials believe has reached some of the world's most high-profile games including World Cup qualifiers and UEFA Champions League matches.
Among the 14 people detained in Singapore during the 12-hour operation on Tuesday is the crime group's suspected leader, the Singapore Police Force and the city-state's Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau said in a joint statement late Wednesday.
The statement didn't disclose the names of the arrested suspects, and authorities wouldn't say whether Tan Seet Eng, a Singaporean man also known as Dan Tan, was among them.
Singapore police said earlier this year that Tan, considered to be a key suspect in the global match-fixing scheme, was helping them with their investigations.
Europol, the European Union's law enforcement agency, said in February that it was investigating hundreds of games on suspicion of match-fixing. It pointed to "a suspected organized crime syndicate" in Singapore as masterminding the alleged scams and working with criminal networks in Europe.
Singaporean authorities said some of the people they detained this week, including the suspected leader, are "the subject of ongoing investigations in other jurisdictions for match fixing activities."
'An important step'
Interpol, the international police organization, said it had helped to connect investigators in Singapore and Europe.
"Singaporean authorities have taken an important step in cracking down on an international match-fixing syndicate by arresting the main suspects in the case, including the suspected mastermind," said Ronald K. Noble, Interpol's secretary general. "No person should doubt Singapore's commitment to fighting match-fixing."
The suspected leader and four others are being held for further investigation, the Singaporean agencies said. The nine remaining suspects will be released on bail, they added.
The people arrested -- 12 men and two women -- are all Singaporean and are aged between 38 and 60, Singapore authorities said.
"Singapore is committed to eradicate match-fixing as a transnational crime and protect the integrity of the sport," the police and the corruption investigation bureau said. "All cases will be pursued vigorously with a view to bring perpetrators to justice."
European police officials in February described their investigation as "the biggest-ever investigation into suspected match-fixing in Europe."
A total of 380 games in Europe -- including World Cup and European Championship qualifiers -- were deemed suspicious, with 425 match and club officials and criminals involved from 15 different countries.