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Germany shines spotlight on lower league “fixing”: TV

More than 60 matches have been fixed in Germany’s second division and lower leagues, broadcaster ARD reported on Monday, citing a witness while a third division player was sacked after admitting to wrongdoing.

The public prosecutor in the western city of Bochum had earlier this month indicated that 32 suspect matches had been identified.

However, ARD’s investigative programme Fakt quoted a witness from Hamburg of Serbian origin that more matches were involved and that a second division side had been relegated as a result.

Third division side SV Sandhausen said meanwhile it had dismissed a player, Marcel Schuon, following the Bochum investigation which indicated wrongdoing while he was playing for Osnabruck.

“Sandhausen has never been mired in scandal and can have nothing to do with this,” manager Tobias Gebert said.

Schuon’s lawyer told the press that his client had agreed to influence game scores but added that the player had not gone through with the plan.

According to the ARD witness, the matches under the spotlight include five from the second division while “in 80 percent of cases the manipulations succeeded and we got the outcome we wanted.”

The witness said he was close to Ante Sapina, a German of Croatian origin who is alleged to have helped to instigate a betting ring.

He added that one club was relegated from the second division after two matches in a row were rigged.

The four teams who went down were Essen, Unterhaching, Burghausen and Braunschweig.

Aside from Schuon, the skipper of regional league side SC Verl, Patrick Neumann, has also been caught up in the Bochum dragnet. His club suspended him last week.

Spiegel Online magazine said earlier that UEFA had suspended a Ukrainian referee believed to have been caught up in the affair.

Last week, the German Football Federation (DFB) and the German Football League (DFL) announced the creation of a task force here to probe the betting scandal, which has rocked European football.

The DFB and DFL said they would join forces to probe the affair.

“A sports federation has a duty to fight organised crime with international implications,” DFB president Theo Zwanziger said.

Police have since raided addresses across Europe, smashing what they believe is a 200-strong band bribing players, referees and coaches in nine countries to influence matches that they would then bet huge sums on.

Around 200 games played this season in Germany, Belgium, Switzerland, Croatia, Slovenia, Turkey, Hungary, Bosnia-Hercegovina and Austria are now under suspicion.

None of the 200 suspected matches were in top flight European leagues like England’s Premier League, Italy’s Serie A, Spain’s La Liga or Germany’s Bundesliga.

But the gang is still thought to have earned as much as 10 million euros (15 million dollars) in huge bets with bookmakers in Europe and Asia, primarily in China. Fifteen people were arrested in Germany and Switzerland in the raids.

Two of those arrested reportedly include two Croatian brothers living in Berlin – Ante and Milan Sapina – who were at the centre of a match-fixing scandal that rocked Germany in 2004.

The German scandal saw referee Robert Hoyzer jailed in 2005 after admitting receiving almost 70,000 euros (104,000 dollars) and a plasma television from the Croatian brothers to throw games.

Mon 30 November, 2009
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