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Arsenal’s Granit Xhaka caught in the centre of suspicions of a major betting scandal

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Arsenal midfielder, Granit Xhaka’s yellow card in the team’s win at Leeds last season is being investigated by the National Crime Agency amid suspicions of a major betting scandal.

The FA conducted a six-month investigation and have referred the matter to the country’s leading organised crime agency in a development which indicates serious concerns over corruption and possible criminality.

The FA opened their inquiry after being alerted to suspicious betting patterns relating to a yellow card shown to Xhaka towards the end of Arsenal’s 4-1 win at Elland Road on December 18.

Arsenal midfielder Granit Xhaka

The alarm was raised by an unusually large bet of about £52,000 placed during the match on Xhaka to be booked in the final 10 minutes despite the fact that Arsenal were winning 4-1.

The Switzerland midfielder was booked by referee Andre Marriner for time wasting in the 86th minute as he delayed taking a free-kick.

Video footage of the incident shows Xhaka standing over the ball deep in his own half for around 20 seconds with no apparent desire to take the free-kick before he is booked.

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According to Mail Online, the suspicious bet was placed on a betting exchange, a website that allows users to place bets but also take them from other users and it was reported shortly afterwards that the gamble earned a pay-out of around £250,000.

The report said Leading bookmakers reported it to the FA due to the large amount of money involved and several industry sources have told Sportsmail that the sum was far in excess of what is usually wagered on yellow cards.

Another bizarre aspect of the incident was that the odds offered on the betting exchange for Xhaka being booked were higher in the final 10 minutes than they had been before kick-off, which also prompted integrity concerns.

The FA have not opened any investigation into Xhaka’s conduct but are understood to have passed on the information they have gathered to the National Crime Agency. The 29-year-old has a poor disciplinary record for Arsenal, being booked 10 times and sent off twice last season. Xhaka has been booked or sent off in more than a quarter of his matches for the club.

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