Liga MX denies match manipulation investigation is underway

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The league released a statement Monday after a number of media reports indicated FIFA is looking into games because of suspicious betting activity

Liga MX released a statement denying it is under any sort of investigation of match manipulation.

The statement comes after reports emerged last week that FIFA was looking into possible manipulation in Mexican soccer, with a number of reports citing irregular betting action as the cause for the supposed investigation. However, the federation released a statement on Monday saying that FIFA has confirmed there is no investigation - something the governing body confirmed Tuesday.

"We have received a written document from (FIFA) in which it is reiterated that the stated information is false and that at this time there is no investigation of this nature in relation to Mexican soccer," the Liga MX statement reads. "FIFA stands by, in the document mentioned, the excellent work with a proactive and preventive focus the authorities with the FMF and Liga MX have carried out to strengthen the structure and platform of integrity of Mexican football, and in this way to avoid any alert or future incident."

The reports had indicated a Clausura 2017 encounter between Monterrey and Morelia drawing particular scrutiny. In that contest, Raul Ruidiaz scored a 90th-minute winner that not only vaulted Morelia into the final playoff position but also made sure the club would stay in the first division. It came four minutes after a penalty awarded to Monterrey. It was a spectacular ending, but one that is is not being investigated by authorities.

"FIFA can confirm that it is currently not conducting any investigation into match manipulation in Mexican football," a spokesperson said in a statement. "Accordingly, recent comments circulating in Mexican media related to an apparent ongoing investigation conducted by FIFA into possible match manipulation in Mexican football are not only incorrect but also highly misleading."

A report in weekly magazine Proceso indicated that Liga MX has become incredibly popular with bettors, with nearly three-fourths of bets being placed coming from the Asian market.

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That influx is down to the fact that few other matches take place in Mexico's time zones and the contests are widely broadcast on television. Betting on action domestically also is legal in Mexico, with teams like Club Tijuana owned by a company that also runs casinos and sportsbooks.

As with most countries, the risk is much higher in the lower leagues. Matches in competitions like the third-division Liga Premier are not shown on television, and players making less money may be more likely to work with outside agents looking to arrange a certain outcome.

FIFA monitors the international betting markets to look for suspicious activity, partnering with Swiss firm Sportradar Integrity Services, and also has a confidential reporting system known as BKMS where players can report contact made by potential manipulators either on an online portal or by email.

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