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Scandal suspect on the run from mafia: lawyer

SoccerNews in Bundesliga 1 Dec 2009

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The captain of regional German side SC Verl, suspended under suspicion of being involved in Europe’s betting scandal, has gone into hiding through fear of mafia retribution, his lawyer said on Tuesday.

Midfielder Patrick Neumann was last week suspended by his club, based near Bielefeld which plays in the Regionalliga West, and is now in hiding through fear of figures involved in the betting scandal, said his lawyer Lutz Klose.

“Patrick is very afraid and panicking,” said Klose.

“He can identify the contact people involved.

“He is worried this time they will use not cunning and bribery, but intimidation and force.”

According to Klose, Neumann had been offered between 5,000 to 10,000 euros (7,500-15,000 US dollars) if his side lost a regional game against Borussia Moenchengladbach II in May which Verl eventually won 4-3.

But the side threw away a 3-0 lead in the process and lost the following week to Cologne II after conceding an own goal, which brought the results under suspicion and led to the suspension of Neumann and team-mate Tim Hagedorn.

“He (Neumann) did not reject the offer immediately,” said Klose.

“And the cheats were able to build a scenario involving more threats and bribery.”

On Monday, German broadcaster ARD claimed more than 60 matches have been fixed in Germany’s second division and lower leagues, 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, but ARD interviewed a witness who claimed the number is far higher.

On Monday, third division side SV Sandhausen dismissed defender Marcel Schuon following the Bochum investigation which indicated wrongdoing while he was playing for Osnabrueck.

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.

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-Herzegovina and Austria are now under suspicion.

None of the 200 suspected matches was in top flight European leagues such as England’s Premier League, Italy’s Serie A, Spain’s La Liga or Germany’s Bundesliga. But they included qualification games from the Champions League.

The gang is 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.

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