Federation promises action in match-fixing scandal

Published Nov. 21, 2009 4:02 p.m. EST

The German football federation on Saturday promised swift action against players, coaches and referees found guilty in the unfolding match-fixing scandal. The federation also pledged to work closely with authorities investigating what European football officials have called the biggest match-fixing scandal in Europe. The investigation so far has resulted in 12 arrests in Germany and two in Switzerland and investigators believe 200 games to have been manipulated, including three in the qualifying stages of the Champions League and 12 in the Europa League, the continent's second-tier competition. Officials from European federations will meet Wednesday in the headquarters of UEFA, the European governing body of football, to discuss the affair, according to the German federation (DFB). Authorities believe they have arrested the ring leaders of the gang suspected of manipulating games to make money on betting. No identities were released, although they said about 200 people are suspected of being involved. The betting syndicate is suspected of bribing players, coaches, referees and other officials to fix games, and the suspected leaders are believed to have made at least ?10 million ($14.8 million). When the DFB receives evidence from investigators, it will turn it over to its own disciplinary bodies, DFB president Theo Zwanziger said. "As soon as we know who is under investigation, we will give prosecutors everything they need. It's in our interest that the prosecutors are aggressive," he said. Zwanziger promised that nothing "would be swept under the carpet." Investigators believe 32 games were manipulated in Germany, four of them in the second division and the rest in lower divisions. Other countries involved are Belgium, Switzerland, Croatia, Slovenia, Turkey, Hungary, Bosnia and Austria. Meanwhile, German media reports said three players of the Osnabrueck club were under investigation, two of them with top-division experience. Osnabrueck was relegated form the second division last season. A player from the sixth-division Wuerzburg is among those arrested, the club said Saturday. Media reports have also named the fourth-division club Ulm as one of those whose games were suspected of being manipulated. At least one referee is under suspicion, according to reports. One of those arrested is Ante Sapina, a Croatian man who was also convicted in a previous match-fixing scandal in Germany. Sapina's lawyer has confirmed that his client is under custody and Berlin newspapers said Sapina's brother Milan was also arrested Ante Sapina was convicted of fraud in 2005 and sentenced to 35 months in prison for fixing or attempting to fix 23 games by paying German referee Robert Hoyzer to rig matches Sapina and his brothers bet on. Ante Sapina's brothers Milan and Filip were given suspended sentences. Hoyzer was convicted of fraud and sentenced to 29 months in prison after admitting he had manipulated games mostly in German lower divisions on behalf of the three brothers, who made millions by betting on the games.