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Germany sets up betting scandal task force

SoccerNews in Bundesliga 23 Nov 2009

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

With European football’s governing body UEFA calling a crisis meeting at their base in Nyon, Switzerland, for this Wednesday, the DFB and DFL said they would join forces to probe 32 German games out of some 200 under suspicion.

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

“We can only achieve this with the support of the public prosecutor’s office.”

On Thursday, police 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.

Of the 32 German matches, four were in the second division, three in the third, 23 games in regional leagues and two were under-19 clashes, prosecutors said last week.

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.

After the scandal, the DFB installed an early-warning system to detect unusual results in the DFL’s numerous leagues, but Zwanziger insisted they learned the lessons from the last scandal.

“We developed a warning system which has helped us in the last few years,” said Zwanziger.

“We showed nevertheless in the past that we do not take these matters lightly.”

And DFL boss Christian Seifert said the early-warning system had been triggered by some strange results.

“While the early-warning system is in place, no federation in the world is 100 percent safe against organised crime games who want to manipulate matches,” said Seifert.

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