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Ex-Bundesliga Player Jailed for Fixing Matches

Former FC Chemitz player Steffen Karl received a nine-month suspended sentence and 50 hours of community service for his part in the match-fixing scandal that shook German soccer to its core.

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Referee Robert Hoyzer was the first of six to be convicted of fixing matches

The 35-year-old Karl admitted meeting Ante Sapina, head of a Croatian mafia betting ring in Berlin, in a hotel and accepting a bribe of 8,000 euros ($9,455) to play below his best in Chemnitz's 4-0 regional league defeat to SC Paderborn in May 2004.

He also admitted being paid 18,000 euros for a match against Holsten Kiel on May 1, 2004, that Chemnitz lost, according to a statement his lawyer presented the court.

After previously denying any involvement in the scandal, Karl, who was a UEFA Cup finalist with Borussia Dortmund in 1993, surprisingly turned his testimony around and said he did in fact try to make is club lose the two games.

"It was a late confession, but a remorseful one," the judge Gerti Kramer said.

Betting ring fixed 23 games

Ante Sapina vor Gericht

Ante Sapina paid Karl thousands of euros in bribes

Sapina (photo) was one of three Croatian brothers reported to have made two million euros from betting on 23 "fixed" games and Ante, the main man behind of the match-fixing operation, was recently sentenced to two years and 11 months in prison.

Milan and Filip Sapina received suspended jail sentences of 16 months and one year respectively.

Sixth person to be convicted

Disgraced referee Robert Hoyzer started the scandal back in January when he admitted to accepting bribes to fix four matches for the Croatian betting ring.

Hoyzer, 26, was jailed for two years and five months while another former referee Dominik Marks -- implicated by Hoyzer -- was handed a suspended 18 month sentence for his part in rigging matches. The men also received received lifetime bans from the German soccer association, which went on to prohibit players, coaches and officials from betting on games.

Karl, who received the lighest possible punishment, is the sixth person to be convicted of match-fixing in the 11 months since the case first came to light. Berlin prosecutors are continuing to investigate 19 other people.

The match-fixing scandal has cast a dark cloud over host nation Germany ahead of the 2006 World Cup, running from June 9 to July 9.

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