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05th Aug 2022

Investigators probing Granit Xhaka’s suspicious booking are looking into alleged criminal conspiracy involving the Albanian mafia

Daniel Brown

Xhaka’s booking was investigated by the National Crime Agency

Investigators looking into Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka’s suspicious booking in the Gunners’ Premier League win over Leeds last season are reportedly probing an alleged criminal conspiracy involving the Albanian mafia and a former professional footballer.

Xhaka was carded by referee Andre Marriner in the closing stages of his side’s Premier League win at Elland Road last December for taking too long to take a free-kick. This led to the match being investigated by the National Crime Agency (NCA) after a five-figure bet was placed on him to be booked.

According to SportsMail, an unusually large bet of ‘about £52,000’ was placed during the match on Xhaka to be booked in the final ten minutes. The bet was placed on a betting exchange website, allowing users to place bets but also take them from other users. It reportedly earned a payout of close to £250,000.

The FA conducted a six-month investigation into the incident and passed it on to the National Crime Agency (NCA), raising concerns over corruption and possible criminal activity. However, there was no suggestion of wrongdoing by Arsenal, Xhaka or any of his teammates.

As reported by MailPlus, the NCA investigators have since found evidence of significant sums being wagered in cryptocurrency in markets that are not regulated in England. The report adds that a large proportion of activity is thought to have taken place in Albania.

It adds that the NCA are also investigating claims that former professional footballer Alban Jusufi – who was handed a five-year ban for match-fixing by the Swedish courts in 2017 – placed a significant amount of money on Xhaka to be booked in the match against Leeds.

Xhaka was born in Switzerland but is proud of his Albanian heritage. His brother, Taulant, has made 31 senior international caps for the country.

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