According to the European police Agency, the investigation lasted about a year, and in the operation, held yesterday, was attended by 70 Portuguese police officers. As a result, were arrested three key figures in organised criminal networks, raided 22 homes and businesses, including the four major football club.

Seized several thousand euros in cash (mostly in 500 Euro bills). As specifies Reuters, the raids took place in Lisbon clubs Benfica and sporting, as well as serving in the third division of the championship of Portugal "Leiria". Its President, Russian businessman Alexander Tolstikov, arrested.

Solve financial problems

At Europol noted that the criminal group found European football clubs are experiencing serious financial problems, and assisted them by donations or investments.

Then, such clubs were bought on the nominees of individuals, behind which was hidden the "non-transparent network of holding companies owned by registered in offshore zones and tax havens" one-day firms".

After the establishment of control account football teams use to launder dirty money through a variety of events in the transfer market and deals with the rights for TV broadcast. The group also did not avoid the fraud with bets on the results of matches.

It is for this scheme and was acquired by the club, "Leiria", in which, in particular, in 2001-2002, worked as a well-known coach Jose Mourinho. Team until 2012 played in the highest League of the Portuguese championship, and then, facing financial difficulties, was forced to move to a lower division.

Tolstikov, head of its Agency D-Sports, began to provide financial support for "Leiria" in 2014, and a year later became President of the club, where there are several young Russian players.

Europol believe that the disclosed in Portugal criminal network exists since 2008 and, apparently, "constitutes one of the important cell of the Russian mafia group responsible for laundering millions of euros in many EU countries." Now we are talking about the involvement of the network to serious organized crimes committed on the territory of Austria, great Britain, Germany, Latvia, Moldova and Estonia.

The Russian interest

Russian businessmen are not just recently bought a troubled European football clubs. In 2003, Roman Abramovich bought the English Chelsea, debts which at that time, according to some estimates exceed 100 million pounds. In 2011, another Russian Dmitry Rybolovlev bought on the verge of bankruptcy French club Monaco".

There are less significant acquisitions. In 2011 the former mayor of the Moscow region of Khimki Yuri Korablin became the owner of one of Europe's oldest Italian club of Venice, and the businessman Vladimir Antonov bought the English "Portsmouth", was the first bankrupt in the history of the Premier League.