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Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Police question football officials

The sports director at the professional Norwegian football (soccer) club Vålerenga described his brief arrest by police on Wednesday as “uncomfortable” but not necessarily surprising. Truls Haakonsen was among officials at Vålerenga and rival club Stabæk who were questioned Tuesday in connection with the controversial transfer of player Veigar Páll Gunnarsson.

The transfer controversy, first revealed by TV2 in Norway, is suspected of involving fraudulent option payments that also cost Gunnarsson’s former club, Nancy in France. Norway’s national football association investigated and reported the matter to police, charging club officials with consciously trying to cheat the French club out of transfer payments to which it was entitled.

The deal has resulted in club officials and board members resigning and being placed on leave while police investigate. On Wednesday the investigation took a dramatic turn when police raided club offices, arrested both Haakonsen and Stabæk’s sports leader Inge André Olsen and brought them in for questioning.

Both are charged in the case but Haakonsen appeared relaxed, telling reporters he had “nothing to hide.” Other club officials objected to the police tactics, suggesting they over-dramatized the situation. Police officials, however, call the potential fraud “serious.” Olsen and Haakonsen, if found guilty, face up to six years in prison.

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