Pointing the finger: Hoyzer (right) is accused of widespread match-fixingImage: dpa
Referee Scandal Threatens Germany's World Cup
DW staff / AFP (nda)
January 24, 2005
Instead of a fanfare heralding the first opportunity for the public to book their places at the World Cup in Germany in 2006, alarm bells are ringing over a match-rigging scandal that threatens to sully the event.
Just over a day before the world's attention was to turn to Germany for the official release of World Cup 2006 tickets, the latest in the host country's moments in the sporting sun was eclipsed by a largely unknown second division German referee called Robert Hoyzer.
The German Football Federation (DFB) confirmed on Saturday afternoon that they had begun investigating Hozyer, 25, for fixing a cup match that he had apparently bet on. The Berlin-born referee resigned from his post on Friday when the probe came to light.
The match at the center of the scandal took place on Aug. 21, 2004, with regional side SC Paderborn and Bundesliga heavyweights SV Hamburg contesting a DFB Cup first round match.
With the 1983 European Cup winners leading the minor league minnows 2-0, Hamburg inexplicably saw their lead disintegrate. During an allegedly assisted comeback, Paderborn were awarded two dubious penalites, both of which were scored, and also benefited when HSV's Belgian striker Emile Mpenza was sent off for complaining against Hozyer's decisions.
The DFB, who will hold an emergency meeting on Monday following Hozyer's (picture) shock resignation, added that there was also evidence of manipulation of other games involving the the referee.
Fears of multiple offences
"Since Friday we have had evidence that he rigged games," DFB joint-president Theo Zwanziger said on German television station ARD. Hoyzer did not referee in the top Bundesliga division but had taken charge of 12 second division matches as well as cup and regional league fixtures.
"This case has caused great damage to the DFB," said Gerhard Mayer-Vorfelder, the other of the DFB's two co-chairmen, ahead of Monday's meeting. "Just from the psychological aspect, incredible damage has been done, for the German federation and for the referees' organization." Mayer-Vorfelder also called for a general ban on betting for referees.
DFB board president Horst Hilpert told German sports news agency SID on Sunday that the investigation into the scandal would be concluded as soon as possible. "It is always the obligation of the board of control to reach their conclusions swiftly, particularly in so stressful a case."
"We're going to see if prosecutors need to be involved," DFB spokesman Harald Stenger added in a separate statement. "We'll also want to talk to bookmakers. (The DFB) will leave no stone unturned in this investigation. From what we know at this point, this is absolutely a single case. No other referee, no player, no coach, no club is involved. I also want to stress that (Hoyzer's) denying all allegations."
"I have never bet on a game I have refereed," Hoyzer told the Bild newspaper on Monday. "The accusations have left me pensive, uneasy and dismayed. I cannot comprehend them, and also cannot understand that my refereeing colleagues could think me capable of such a thing."
Aggrieved HSV consider own action
Meanwhile, Hamburg officials are holding fire on action of their own until the DFB investigation is complete. "We are waiting to see how the probe develops and will stay in contact with the DFB to see how we should react," explained Hamburg chief Bernd Hoffmann told ZDF television. "If it is confirmed, we want some sort of compensation. Who knows how our season might have gone? We could still be going strong in the cup at this stage."
"Great damage has been inflicted on Hamburg SV and on German football," Hoffman added. "We will use all legal means to put right this wrong." However, there is little chance that the clubs will get the chance to right the wrongs on the pitch. The DFB has already ruled out any possibility of replaying the disputed match.
Another person involved was entertaining similar thoughts as to what would have happened if the outcome of the game had been different. Former HSV coach Klaus Toppmoller was in charge of Hamburg at the time of the match and claimed Hoyzer's corrupt decisions caused his dismissal two months later.
Toppmöller blames ref for sack
"The referee (Hoyzer) cost me my job as we were doing fine until the Paderborn game," raged Toppmoller in the Bild am Sonntag weekly. "After that it all went downhill.I had the impression that it was a match we could never win. I knew something wasn't right and I even told the referee's assistant at the time. But what can you do? If you say there is cheating going on, you could face a ban."
Referees now face increased scrutiny into their actions for the remainder of the season. The Hoyzer revelations are likely to increase suspicion when questionable decisions are made. "From now on all referee decisions will be questioned," admitted Oliver Bierhoff, assistant coach of the German national team, in a statement to reporters. "But I am sure this is just a one-off case."
Ghosts of 1971 scandal stirring
The DFB will surely hope so. While it is doing its upmost to prevent the Hozyer affair from enveloping German football ahead of the 2006 World Cup on home soil, the DFB will be sorely reminded of a previous incident which blew up into the biggest scandal in German football.
Match-fixing and bribes engulfed the Bundesliga in 1971 when more than 50 players, a number of coaches and officials plus the clubs Arminia Bielefeld and Kickers Offenbach were found guilty of offering bribes and fixing Bundesliga games, prompting the DFB to dish out hefty fines and suspensions.