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Europe's largest match-fixing trial opens in Bochum

Four men are on trial in the biggest match-fixing scandal to hit European soccer. They're accused of bribing players and referees to fix matches, helping them to win more than a million euros by betting on the games.

Football match between Nuernberg and Osnabrueck (13.05.2009)

German second division matches may have been fixed

Four men have gone on trial in the western German city of Bochum in the biggest match-fixing scandal ever to hit European soccer. The four have been charged with 38 counts of fraud and if found guilty, each could face 10 years behind bars.

The accused are between the ages of 32 and 55 and come from the German cities of Schweinfurt, Lippstadt, Lohne and Moenchengladbach.

One of them is a 32-year-old former professional footballer, Christian S., who played for FC Schweinfurt 05 in the second division in the 2001-02 season.

Thirty-two games in Germany's second division and several other European leagues are suspected of having been fixed.

The men are accused of paying 370,000 euros ($512,000) in bribes to football players and referees in Germany, Belgium, Slovenia, Hungary, Croatia and Switzerland.

Bets were placed on the outcome of the matches as well as red cards and late goals. The winnings from these matches amounted to around 1.6 million euros.

Chance investigation

The Bochum prosecutor's office began its investigation into the scandal after Berlin police stumbled upon evidence of fixed Bundesliga games in an unrelated investigation into alleged drug crimes.
Former Bundesliga referee Robert Hoyzer

Hoyzer was jailed for his involvement in match-fixing


Wire taps revealed that Ante S. was implicated in this new betting scandal. He was one of the key figures in the 2005 Bundesliga match-fixing scandal that landed referee Robert Hoyzer in prison.

Ante S. has been detained since 2009 and is expected to be one of the prosecution's main witnesses in its case against the four defendants.

DFB keenly interested

With the outcomes of around 270 European matches being called into question, the German Soccer Association (DFB) is keen to tighten its regulations.

"We're watching the trial closely in the hope of reaching absolute clarity," said Wolfgang Niersbach, the general secretary of the DFB.

The charges were expected to be read out later on Wednesday and pleas are to be heard at a later date. The trial is expected to last until at least Oct. 28.

Author: Natalia Dannenberg, Gabriel Borrud (dpa/SID)
Editor: Chuck Penfold

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