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Premier League star at center of ‘Albanian Mafia’ betting scandal – Reuters

Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka has been named in reports of alleged betting irregularities

Investigators investigating a yellow card Granit Xhaka received for Arsenal against Leeds United last season are also looking into an alleged criminal conspiracy involving a former professional previously convicted of match-fixing and the Albanian mafia.

The English Football Association (FA) have launched an investigation after being made aware of suspicious betting patterns towards the end of Arsenal’s 3-1 win over the Yorkshiremen at Elland Road.

In total, there was an alleged £52,000 ($63,000) bet on Xhaka’s booking in the final 10 minutes of the December 2021 win for the Gunners.

In the 86th minute, Xhaka went into referee Andre Marriner’s book for wasting time before taking a free kick, despite Arsenal having a comfortable lead.

Xhaka put around 10-15 seconds over the ball, and the Daily Mail revealed in June how the investigation had been passed to the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA).

On Friday, the same UK newspaper reports that NCA investigators told them they had uncovered evidence of large sums of cryptocurrency being bet on unregulated markets in the UK, with much of the activity coming from Albania where Xhaka, of Swiss origin, can trace his roots.

Even so, there is no indication that Xhaka, who was reprimanded by FIFA at the 2018 World Cup in Russia for making an Albanian eagle hand gesture when Switzerland beat Serbia 2-1 , did anything wrong.

Additionally, it is also unclear who might be involved in an alleged plot.

Simultaneously, however, the NCA is examining allegations that Swedish-Albanian striker Alban Jusufi, who was hit with a five-year ban by Swedish courts for match-fixing in 2017, has earned huge sums of money. money by betting on Xhaka being booked.

Jusufi, now 41, was found guilty of bribing AIK marksman Kyriakos Stamatopoulos £150,000 ($182,000) for playing poorly ahead of a derby encounter against IFK Gothenburg, prompting the Swedish FA to postpone the match after the planned match-fixing was reported.

Amid the controversy, Xhaka is set to race for Arsenal on Friday night as they kick off their 2022/2023 Premier League campaign on the road at Crystal Palace.

About to leave the club after an argument with their fans which saw him appear to tell them to “kiss my ass” in a 2-2 draw with Palace in October 201, Xhaka was stripped of the captain’s armband by then-manager Unai Emery but appears to be enjoying life in north London again under the Spaniard’s successor Mikel Arteta.

“Without him [Arteta]I wouldn’t be here at this football club anymore.” Xhaka recently confessed.

“He helped me a lot when I was completely depressed. He took me aside, helped me with little things, step by step, tactically, as a person, mentality, between the team and the club, tried to help me also with the Fans.

“He’s a freak in a positive way”, Xhaka continued. “Tactically he knows everything. The way he prepares the team before training, before games, is amazing. I’ve had a lot of coaches, but I have to put Mikel among the best in my career.”

Now that the fences have been mended, a decent Premier League title challenge from Manchester City remains top priority for the pair in addition to sealing qualification for next term’s Champions League.

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