The top flight of German football, the Bundesliga, has been drawn into fresh allegations of match fixing, after reports from Italy on Tuesday implicated a game between clubs Energie Cottbus and VfL Bochum in 2009.
The investigation has netted nearly 30 suspected match fixers
German football clubs Energie Cottbus and VfL Bochum expressed surprise Tuesday after Italian reports that a match played between the clubs in the 2008-09 Bundesliga soccer season may have been fixed.
The Gazzetta dello Sport reported last week that a former player at the one of the clubs had said he had known what the result of the match was going to be before the final whistle blew. The report was only taken up by a German newspaper on Tuesday.
The Italian sports daily said it was citing documents from investigations against organized crime by the prosecutor in Naples. The name of the former player who provided the information was not immediately known, however, according to media reports, the comments were made in a monitored telephone conversation prior to the player's arrest as part of a match-fixing probe.
The game finished in a 3-2 victory for Bochum after a controversial penalty was awarded to the western German club with only 11 minutes left.
Thanks to the victory, Bochum remained in the country's top flight by two points, while Cottbus were eventually relegated at the end of the season.
Cottbus went on to lose the match and face eventual relegation
"We were surprised to be confronted with this outrageous allegation," said Cottbus president Ulrich Lepsch on Tuesday.
A spokesperson for Bochum said his club had only heard about the story through recent media reports.
The Italian reports come a year after German police arrested several people suspected of operating a soccer match-fixing ring targeting top-flight fixtures in Europe. Arrests were also made in a host of other European countries, including Italy.
Those arrested were suspected of using cash to bribe players, coaches, referees and officials with the aim to profit from fixed match results through betting syndicates.
The swoops came as a result of an investigation by German public prosecutors, coincidentally, based in Bochum.
But this would be the first time that Bundesliga teams have been implicated in match-fixing allegations.
The Bochum prosecutor's office, as well as the German Football Association, said Tuesday they had no knowledge of the recent Italian reports.
"We are surprised. Up until now, we haven't had any tips about the game between Bochum and Cottbus, and also no contacts in Italy in this regard," senior Bochum public prosecutor Bernd Bieniossek told Germany's Sports Information Service (SID).
Author: Darren Mara (dpa, SID)
Editor: Michael Lawton