|Referee Anton Genov has been suspended during the investigation [GALLO/GETTY]|
European football’s governing body Uefa are investigating Bulgarian referee Anton Genov following revelations of irregular betting patterns.
Uefa said it will not appoint Genov to a European match – an international, Champions League or Europa League fixture – during the investigation.
The irregular betting patterns aroused suspicion after Genov awarded four penalties in Macedonia’s 3-0 international friendly against Canada in Strumica.
The penalties, two to each side, were all awarded in the second half.
The investigation comes just weeks after Uefa and German police cracked a match-fixing ring in Europe with more than 200 suspected members operating in nine European leagues.
“Following obvious irregular betting patterns on the Macedonia v Canada (friendly) on 14 November, and after interviewing the referee in question, Uefa has decided not to appoint Anton Genov to any European matches until further notice while more investigations are carried out,” Uefa said in a statement on Wednesday.
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.
Canada coach Stephen Hart said his memory of the officiating was Genov calling a “tight, tight” game.
“Anything was really a foul. It was along those lines, any sort of contact was a foul,” he said on Tuesday.
“The penalty situation, it was just odd that four penalties would be called.
“But having said that, other than that I didn’t really pay much attention to it. I just thought we’re playing away from home and you’re getting these calls that are consistent with playing away from home.”
On Monday, the Bulgarian Football Union (BFU) dismissed its refereeing commission for the second time in 15 months, citing an increasing number of mistakes from officials.
Several clubs have criticised refereeing this season and champions Levski Sofia last month called for the resignation of BFU president Borislav Mihaylov and referees’ chief Dimo Momirov.
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 the match-fixing probe.
Police in Germany, Britain, Austria and Switzerland cracked down on the ring, staging simultaneous raids that resulted in 15 arrests in Germany and two in Switzerland.
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.
On Friday, Uefa president Michel Platini described match-fixing as the biggest scourge facing the sport.