FRANKFURT (AP)--German prosecutors investigating corruption in football say 15 people in Germany and two in Switzerland have been arrested and that about 200 games in Europe--including Champions League ties--are involved in what an UEFA official called the biggest match-fixing scandal in Europe.
Police said Friday that more than 50 raids had been conducted in Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Britain and that evidence, ?1 million ($1.48 million) in cash and other valuables have been seized.
Authorities believe they have arrested the leaders of the gang suspected of manipulating games to make money on betting. No identities were released, although they said about 200 people are suspected of being involved.
"UEFA will be demanding the harshest of sanctions before the competent courts for any individuals, clubs or officials who are implicated in this malpractice, be it under state or sports jurisdiction," UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino said in a statement.
Among the games believed to have been manipulated are three Champions League matches and 12 Europa League games, all this year. UEFA, Europe's governing body of football, said all were early qualifying round games. A qualifying match for the Under-21 European Championship is also under suspicion.
Games in nine European countries are believed to have been manipulated, although none in England, Spain, Italy or France.
The suspected games in Germany were played in the second-division or lower. Other countries involved are Belgium, Switzerland, Croatia, Slovenia, Turkey, Hungary, Bosnia and Austria.
Media reports in Berlin said that two Croatian brothers convicted in Germany's match-fixing scandal in 2005 were among those arrested Thursday and the lawyer for one confirmed the report.
The betting syndicate leaders are suspected of bribing players, coaches, referees and other officials to fix games and the suspected leaders are believed to have made at least ?10 million ($14.82 million).
The figure could be higher because authorities say the number of affected games also could be higher, Bochum's police director Friedhelm Althans said.
"This is only the tip of the iceberg," he said.
The investigation began in January and has been supported by UEFA.
Peter Limacher, UEFA's head of disciplinary services, said he believed it was the biggest match-fixing scandal to ever hit Europe.
UEFA has previously said it is looking into 40 suspected matches in the Champions League and UEFA Cup--the predecessor for the Europa League--from the last four seasons, mostly involving eastern European clubs in the early qualifying rounds. The organization confirmed that the three Champions League and 12 Europa League games mentioned Friday were on that earlier list.
UEFA has beefed up its early warning system to protect against illegal betting and match-fixing and president Michel Platini has described those issues as the greatest problem facing European football.
Limacher, speaking alongside German prosecutors and police officials at a nationally televised news conference in Bochum, said the arrests were proof that the detection system was working.
"We feel a certain satisfaction but on the other side we are deeply affected by the scope of game manipulations by international gangs," Limacher said.
The detection system monitors all UEFA competitions and national first and second division games for suspicious betting patterns.
The system "is already bearing fruit," UEFA said.
"We will continue our battle against any form of corruption in European football with a mission of zero tolerance," Infantino said.
According to German authorities, 32 games are under suspicion in Germany, including four in the second division. The others were lower-tier matches.
In Belgium, 17 second-division games are under suspicion; in Switzerland, 22 second-division games; in Croatia, 14 first-division games; in Slovenia, seven first-division games; in Turkey, 29 first-division games; in Hungary, 13 first-division games; in Bosnia, eight first-division games, and in Austria, 11 first and second-division games.
The prosecutor's office in Bochum is Germany's leading authority on fighting corruption and fraud.
The Berliner Morgenpost reported Thursday that Ante Sapina and his brother Milan were among five people arrested in Berlin. Ante Sapina's lawyer Stefan Conen confirmed Friday that his client was in custody.
Ante Sapina was convicted of fraud in 2005 and sentenced to 35 months in prison for fixing or attempting to fix 23 games by paying German referee Robert Hoyzer to rig matches Sapina and his brothers bet on. Ante Sapina's brothers Milan and Filip were given suspended sentences.
Hoyzer was convicted of fraud and sentenced to 29 months in prison after admitting he had manipulated games mostly in German lower divisions on behalf of the three brothers, who made millions by betting on the games.