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UEFA suspends top ref, tries to clean up its act after Europe's biggest match-fixing scandal in history

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

NYON, Switzerland -- European soccer's governing body has suspended a top referee while it investigates him for allegedly helping to fix an international match in a betting coup.

UEFA said Tuesday it will not appoint Bulgarian referee Anton Genov to a European match -- an international, Champions League or Europa League fixture -- while further investigations are carried out.

UEFA said there were "obvious irregular betting patterns" during a Nov. 14 exhibition between Macedonia and Canada.

"After interviewing the referee in question, UEFA has decided not to appoint Anton Genov to any European matches until further notice," UEFA spokesman Rob Faulkner said in a statement.

Genov awarded four penalties, two to each side, during Macedonia's 3-0 victory in Strumica.

Betting operators reportedly were alerted by the number of wagers placed on at least three goals being scored, and on the number of penalties awarded.

The 43-year-old Genov has been on world governing body FIFA's list of referees approved to take charge of international matches since 1999.

Referees must be on the list to be considered for selection to officiate at World Cup finals.

UEFA said last month it was investigating three top referees as part of Europe's biggest ever match-fixing probe.

German police specializing in fraud and organized crime are leading the investigation which involves more than 200 matches in at least 11 countries.

Croatian betting syndicates based in Germany are suspected of bribing players, coaches, referees and other officials to fix games, and are believed to have made at least $15 million.

UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino described match-fixing as a "cancer we need to eradicate."

On Monday, the Bulgarian soccer federation fired the country's referee commission, which is responsible for appointing officials to matches and assessing their performance.

The federation cited a series of mistakes made by referees in league and cup matches.