Slovenian referee Slavko Vincic has protested his innocence after being released following his arrest at a party as part of a probe into a prostitution and drugs ring.
The 40-year-old – who has officiated Champions League games involving Manchester City and Liverpool this season – was nicked alongside suspected ringleader Tijana Maksimovic in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Maksimovic is claimed to have been apprehended trying to cross the border on a boat that was carrying three other women.
Cops held nine women and 26 men in total, and seized cocaine, weapons and cash.
Bijeljina police said: “During the search of the house and vehicles used by the suspects, 14 packages of cocaine, ten pistols, three suits of body armour, over 10,000 euros (£8,996) in various currencies, phones and laptops were found and seized.”
Vincic has revealed he was invited to a business meeting in the Bosnian city of Bijeljina and just happened to be at the party by chance.
He was allowed to return home on Friday where he has stated he was questioned by officers as a witness where it transpired he knew none of the accused in the ring.
Speaking to Slovenian news outlet Vecer, Vincic said: “I found myself on this ranch by chance. I have my own company, I was in Bosnia and Herzegovina for a business meeting.
“I accepted an invitation to lunch, which turned out to be my biggest mistake. I regret it.
“I was sitting at a table with my company, all of a sudden the police came and what happened, happened.
“I have nothing to do with the group that was arrested and detained, nor do my business partners.
“Yes, they really took us to the police, asked as witnesses, when it turned out that we didn’t even know them, we were able to go.”
And now Vlado Sajn – the president of the Association of Football Referees of Slovenia – has come to the defence of Vincic as he declared he was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.
He said: “According to the information we gathered from official and unofficial sources, and last but not least from Slavko himself, he is not suspected of anything, no proceedings have been instituted against him.
“He found himself in this place at the wrong time. He was invited to a party where there was a large group of people – he did not know the vast majority.
“There was a raid, 15 people were arrested, and all the others were allegedly brought to the police station to testify as witnesses.
“Slavko is already in Slovenia. I consider this story to be a web of unfortunate circumstances.”