Disgraced German soccer referee Robert Hoyzer will serve his two-year and five-month jail term after his court appeal was turned down despite both prosecuting and defense counsels questioning the initial ruling.
Robert Hoyzer was sentenced to two years and five months behind bars
A former referee convicted for match-fixing in Germany failed on Friday in his appeal against a prison sentence of two years and five months.
Robert Hoyzer had taken his case to Germany's highest judicial court in the eastern city of Leipzig in a bid to seek a reduction in his sentence.
The severity of the sentence handed down last year surprised many observers because prosecutors had only called for a suspended jail term.
The court also rejected appeals from four other defendants, including Ante Sapina, a Croat who was sentenced to two years and 11 months in prison for masterminding the match-rigging scandal.
Handing down the verdict, Chief Judge Clemens Basdorf said, "The confidence of millions of spectators in the sport of soccer and the impartiality of referees was undermined."
The president of the German Football Federation (DFB), Theo Zwanziger, welcomed the decision, saying it showed that Hoyzer's
actions were "not just roguish, but cheating which must be punished."
"This is important for football and for the whole of society. If the conviction had been overturned, people would have been left without bearings," Zwanziger said.
Last week, prosecutor Hartmut Schneider said that Hoyzer's jail sentence handed down in November 2005 was unsound because Hoyzer had not technically broken the law.
"It was trickery," he said. "But criminal liability does not come into it."
Gray area of fraud rulings led to appeal
Claiming that the original court did not properly examine previous rulings in similar types of cases, Schneider said the ruling last year had been "remarkably shallow" and had taken into account public pressure to wrap up the case well before the 2006 World Cup which Germany hosted.
Also inferring to the ambiguity of previous cases, Hoyzer's lawyer Thomas Hermes said that the federal court of appeals had recorded two different rulings in two similar cases in the past. He said that in a 1961 horse betting scandal, the court ruled it was not fraud in a legal sense but in a similar racing case in 1979 the judgment determined it was fraud.
Ante Sapina is unlikely to be released
After a lengthy investigation into illegal betting in German soccer, Hoyzer admitted to receiving money to rig matches for a Croatian mafia circle in Berlin .The scandal rocked Germany ahead of this summer's World Cup.
Hoyzer received death threats after admitting his guilt on television with explanations on how he doctored matches in lower league and cup games in Germany for financial gain.
Other sentences likely to be upheld
The shamed referee was not alone in the scandal: Croat Ante Sapina and his two brothers, and another former referee, Dominik Marks, were part of a two million euro ($2.6-million) betting scam.
The matches concerned were mainly in the German second and third division, but a German Cup match between first division SV Hamburg and third division Paderborn and a first division match in Turkey between Ankaragucu and Galatasaray were also affected.
The Paderborn-Hamburg game was the most notorious incident in the case. Hoyzer awarded Paderborn two penalties and sent off Hamburg's Emile Mpenza to help the regional league side recover from two goals down to beat their first division opponents.
Betting case precedents couldn't save Hoyzer from jail
Sapina made more than 750,000 euros from Paderborn's 4-2 victory, the indictment said. Hoyzer's overall reward was 67,000 euros and an expensive new television set for the nine matches he fixed or tried to fix.
Hoyzer was convicted of six counts of being an accessory to fraud and sentenced to two years and five months. The Berlin district court also sentenced Ante Sapina to a jail term of two years and 11 months. Sapina's brothers Milan and Filip, Dominik Marks and former player Steffen Karl received suspended jail sentences.