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Soccer scandal

November 21, 2009

The head of Germany's football association has promised speedy and severe punishment for match-rigging in the German game as calls mount for tough sanctions.

A football lying on the pitch viewed through the goal netting
Investigators are looking into the results of 23 matches in GermanyImage: picture-alliance / Sven Simon

Germany's football association boss has promised swift and severe punishment for those involved in the latest betting scandal to rock European soccer.

DFB chief Theo Zwanziger said he wanted to "lose no time" in the fight against match-fixing.

Investigators have the results of 32 matches in Germany in their sights, including four in the second division, three in the third, 23 games in regional leagues and two under-19 games.

Zwanziger said that players and officials involved in corruption in the country would be brought to account as soon as evidence was submitted.

He said that the sport would take all disciplinary measures within its power, and could press for legal action to be brought.

Theo Zwanziger, president of the German Football Association, with a stern expression on his face
German Football Association President Theo Zwanziger promises tough penalties for match-fixersImage: picture-alliance/ dpa

"We will punish these people - they do not belong amongst us. Where there is money, there is also corruption," said Zwanziger.

Player denies involvement

VfL Osnabrueck striker Thomas Reichenberger, who is among those alleged to be involved, appeared before fans to deny his guilt. He took hold of a microphone ahead of a third division clash with Borussia Dortmund's second team on Saturday.

"I have had no contact with the betting mafia and have nothing to do with the betting scandal," said Reichenberger. "I have never manipulated a game, or taken money for it."

Club president Dirk Rasch has publicly given his support to the player.

The extent of the Europe-wide soccer match-fixing scandal was revealed on Friday. European football officials and German public prosecutors announced that more than 200 people were being investigated in a bribery racket. The probe includes nine domestic leagues as well as the Champions League and the new Europa league.

Those under investigation are suspected having been involved in match fixing in the top-flight leagues of Croatia, Slovenia, Turkey, Hungary, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Austria as well as lower divisions in Germany, Switzerland and Belgium.

Low-profile games were targeted

Matches involved were usually of a low profile, with players bribed to lose by a particular number of goals, according to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung. The newspaper listed details of games being investigated from Switzerland, Belgium, Croatia and Turkey.

One, from the Swiss second division, was Yverdon Sport against FC Thun in April. Members of the away team are alleged to have been bribed 1,500 euros to lose by five goals, the final result being 5 -1.

Players from Belgium’s second division side UR Namur were allegedly bribed to lose by two goals to Oud-Hevelee Leuven in March. Namur lost 2-0.

It is thought that through bribing players, coaches and officials, the group may have earned as much as 10 million euros placing bets in Europe and Asia.

A sports betting advert stuck to a shop window in Augsburg
The match-fixing scandal is being investigated across nine European leaguesImage: picture-alliance/ dpa

The chairwoman of Transparency International Deutschland Svlvia Schenk demanded zero tolerance against this kind of fraud. Penalties, controls and early warning system should be brought into place, she said, so that culprits could be dealt with severely. Schenk added that the morality of players and officials should also be examined.

"If so many games have been manipulated, a lot of people from the sport have taken part", she said.

"No need for new laws"

Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger has rejected any sharpening of the law to punish culprits. She said that the sentences in the betting scandal of 2005 showed that existing legislation could be used to effectively punish those involved in such activities.

Among those arrested last Thursday were Croatian brothers Ante and Milan Sapina, who were at the centre of a match-fixing scandal that rocked Germany in 2004.

That scandal saw referee Robert Hoyzer jailed the following year when he admitted receiving almost 70,000 euros a plasma television for throwing games.

Editor: Andreas Illmer

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