Granit Xhaka’s time-wasting yellow card ‘linked to mafia’ as police investigate

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The National Crime Agency are reportedly investigating potential links between Granit Xhaka's yellow card against Leeds United last season and an alleged criminal conspiracy involving the Albanian mafia.

The Switzerland captain, 29, picked up a booking for time-wasting in the dying embers of Arsenal's 4-1 win over Leeds in December. An investigation by the FA was triggered following a £52,000 bet placed on him to be booked in the final 10 minutes of the contest.

The yellow card was brandished by referee Andre Marriner in the 86th minute after Xhaka persistently delayed taking a free-kick.

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As well as the large stake on betting exchange Betfair, the Daily Mail report National Crime Agency investigators have uncovered evidence of large sums wagered in cryptocurrency. According to reports, these funds have been placed in markets which aren't regulated within the United Kingdom and much of the activity is believed to have originated from Albania.

The NCA are reportedly probing claims that Alban Jusufi, a former Swedish-Albanian forward who was given a five-year ban for match-fixing in 2017, placed hefty sums on Xhaka to be carded.

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Jusufi, alongside ex-Manchester City and Fulham midfielder Dickson Etuhu, was found guilty of bribing AIK Gothenburg goalkeeper Kyriakos Stamatopoulos £150,000 to deliberately underperform in a derby match against IFK Gothenburg. However, the fixture was postponed after the attempted match-fixing attempt was reported to the Swedish FA.

Xhaka is expected to start for Arsenal tonight in their opening Premier League fixture against Crystal Palace and there is no suspicion of wrongdoing on his part. It is unclear at this stage who may be implicated in the conspiracy.

The FA, Arsenal and the NCA did not comment.


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