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Football club boss held in tax swoop

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18:28 CET+01:00
The Swedish football season may have drawn to a close but play has been substituted by the ongoing tax evasion sagas within sports clubs. IFK Göteborg is now top of the tax investigation table.

Mats Persson, director of football at IFK Göteborg, spent Tuesday night in police custody as the football club faced a new round of tax evasion inquiries.

Persson was detained on Tuesday along with an unconfirmed number of representatives from the club. On Wednesday he faced further police questioning.

According to Dagens Nyheter, prosecutor Lars Lithner from the Swedish National Economic Crimes Bureau confirmed that an investigation has begun.

He added that it concerns serious tax crimes, which according to Swedish law would involve an amount exceeding 400,000 kronor, but refrained from revealing any further details.

Persson's lawyer Per E Samuelsson said his client denies any wrongdoing and branded his detainment as completely unnecessary. He told DN: "This is damaging both to my client and the club. Mats has declared that this deprivation of freedom is the worst thing that has happened to him."

This is the second tax crimes inquiry to hit IFK Göteborg in the last 12 months. Earlier this year, the club was investigated in connection with the purchase of player Peter Ijeh.

According to reports, Ijeh personally received 1 million kronor from the club, which caused a stir with the tax authorities. The question as to whether the money can be considered a gift or part of his salary has significant tax implications and an investigation is ongoing.

Bengt Halse, chairman of IFK Göteborg, spent Wednesday explaining what he knew of the present situation to players and employees at the club.

Surprised over the latest allegations he told DN: "I consider the club to have sound financial routines. But of course I can't have full control over everything that happens in such a big operation."

Police have until Friday lunchtime to detain Mats Persson without charge. Deputy Prime Minister Bosse Ringholm may well be sympathising. This week it was announced Enskede IK will also face a tax crimes inquiry over events when Ringholm was chairman of the football club.

Christine Demsteader

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