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Offline capodetutticapi

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UEFA investigating 40 cases of match-fixing
« on: September 25, 2009, 02:20:08 PM »
LONDON (AP) - Soccer's European governing body is investigating 40 cases of match-fixing involving Champions League and UEFA Cup matches.

Peter Limacher, head of disciplinary services at UEFA, told The Associated Press on Friday that the cases involved early qualifying matches of clubs "mainly from eastern Europe" over the last four years.

Of the 40 matches where UEFA has been alerted to suspicious betting patterns, 15 took place in the last two years, Limacher said.

"Right now it's mainly eastern Europe clubs being investigated. They know they are not going to be involved later in the tournament and they are going out, so decide, 'Let's make a profit," Limacher said. "In the cases we have seen, it's really the deliberate planned fix of the games, the whole games. First the result at halftime, then after 90 minutes.

"It might take some time (to convict) but, in cases where we can work together with the police, that might be possible."

Limacher said UEFA is building a network of informers across Europe to clamp down on match fixing.

UEFA announced last month that three Macedonian clubs were being investigated after banning the former champion FK Pobeda from European competitions for eight years.

One of the fixtures under suspicion is FK Milano's 12-2 aggregate loss in July against Croatia's Slaven Koprivnika in the second qualifying round of the Europa League, the new format for the UEFA Cup.
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Offline Observer

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Re: UEFA investigating 40 cases of match-fixing
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2009, 02:27:49 PM »
Why am I not shocked its Easter European. The clubs and Associations are run by Mafia, no secret.
To argue with a person who has renounced the use of reason is like administering medicine to the dead
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Offline Bitter

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Re: UEFA investigating 40 cases of match-fixing
« Reply #2 on: December 09, 2009, 02:46:48 PM »
German authorities: 17 arrests in match-fixing probe
Associated Press

Updated: November 20, 2009, 1:45 PM EST

FRANKFURT (AP) - German prosecutors investigating corruption in football say 15 people in Germany and two in Switzerland have been arrested and that about 200 games in Europe - including Champions League ties - are involved in what an UEFA official called the biggest match-fixing scandal in Europe.
Police said Friday that more than 50 raids had been conducted in Switzerland, Austria, Germany and Britain and that evidence, €1 million ($1.48 million) in cash and other valuables have been seized.

Authorities believe they have arrested the 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.

"UEFA will be demanding the harshest of sanctions before the competent courts for any individuals, clubs or officials who are implicated in this malpractice, be it under state or sports jurisdiction," UEFA general secretary Gianni Infantino said in a statement.

Among the games believed to have been manipulated are three Champions League matches and 12 Europa League games, all this year. UEFA, Europe's governing body of football, said all were early qualifying round games. A qualifying match for the Under-21 European Championship is also under suspicion.

Games in nine European countries are believed to have been manipulated, although none in England, Spain, Italy or France.

The suspected games in Germany were played in the second-division or lower. Other countries involved are Belgium, Switzerland, Croatia, Slovenia, Turkey, Hungary, Bosnia and Austria.

Media reports in Berlin said that two Croatian brothers convicted in Germany's match-fixing scandal in 2005 were among those arrested Thursday and the lawyer for one confirmed the report.

The betting syndicate leaders are 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 ($14.82 million).

The figure could be higher because authorities say the number of affected games also could be higher, Bochum's police director Friedhelm Althans said.

"This is only the tip of the iceberg," he said.

The investigation began in January and has been supported by UEFA.

Peter Limacher, UEFA's head of disciplinary services, said he believed it was the biggest match-fixing scandal to ever hit Europe.

UEFA has previously said it is looking into 40 suspected matches in the Champions League and UEFA Cup - the predecessor for the Europa League - from the last four seasons, mostly involving eastern European clubs in the early qualifying rounds. The organization confirmed that the three Champions League and 12 Europa League games mentioned Friday were on that earlier list.

UEFA has beefed up its early warning system to protect against illegal betting and match-fixing and president Michel Platini has described those issues as the greatest problem facing European football.

Limacher, speaking alongside German prosecutors and police officials at a nationally televised news conference in Bochum, said the arrests were proof that the detection system was working.

"We feel a certain satisfaction but on the other side we are deeply affected by the scope of game manipulations by international gangs," Limacher said.

The detection system monitors all UEFA competitions and national first and second division games for suspicious betting patterns.

The system "is already bearing fruit," UEFA said.

"We will continue our battle against any form of corruption in European football with a mission of zero tolerance," Infantino said.

According to German authorities, 32 games are under suspicion in Germany, including four in the second division. The others were lower-tier matches.

In Belgium, 17 second-division games are under suspicion; in Switzerland, 22 second-division games; in Croatia, 14 first-division games; in Slovenia, seven first-division games; in Turkey, 29 first-division games; in Hungary, 13 first-division games; in Bosnia, eight first-division games, and in Austria, 11 first and second-division games.

The prosecutor's office in Bochum is Germany's leading authority on fighting corruption and fraud.

The Berliner Morgenpost reported Thursday that Ante Sapina and his brother Milan were among five people arrested in Berlin. Ante Sapina's lawyer Stefan Conen confirmed Friday that his client was in custody.

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.
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Re: UEFA investigating 40 cases of match-fixing
« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2009, 02:50:06 PM »
Soccer on Fields Ripe for Fixing


BAMBERG, Germany — In this small stadium in Bavaria, most seats are not just empty — they are covered in slippery grass and moss. There are no television cameras. Among the sponsors advertised on the boarding is Delphi, a local Greek restaurant.

At stake for the visiting soccer club from Ulm: moving to sixth place, from ninth, in one of Germany’s three fourth-division leagues.

Or, as even its manager, Markus Lösch, acknowledged, “Nothing at all.”

Two weeks ago, Ulm, a charming town on the Danube, was best known for having the tallest church spire in the world and for being the birthplace of Albert Einstein. Now Ulm, and a handful of other German towns, have become associated with the biggest betting scandal in European soccer history, a case that has laid bare the little-known, often-bankrupt underbelly of the world’s most popular sport.

For a few sweet hours on Saturday, none of that mattered. SSV Ulm beat F.C. Eintracht Bamberg, 3-1. The Ulmers dominated the game and loved every minute of it.

Who cared that only 39 fans in Ulm’s black-and-white colors made the trip to Bamberg, a journey of about 155 miles, or that the Neu-Ulmer Zeitung newspaper had not bothered to send a reporter?

For those few hours, everyone could forget that three of Ulm’s best players had recently been fired after they were accused of fixing matches.

“Ulm players aren’t bribable,” the 39 fans chanted in spirited self-deprecation.

“Too bad you didn’t cheat today,” retorted a Bamberg fan across the two metal fences separating them.

Of the 200 European soccer games under investigation by prosecutors, 32 took place in Germany, and more than half of those — 18 — were in the fourth division, where experts did not seem surprised that betting rings appeared to have flourished.

In the higher leagues, cheating is harder and less tempting. The scrutiny of television cameras means a deliberate hand ball or a missed penalty kick is less likely to go undetected. The ignominy of fixing a match stacks up poorly against the rewards of high pay and shares of hefty television fees.

In the lower leagues, a poisonous combination of high expectations, meager success and astonishingly low pay makes the players in Germany’s 33 standard regional division clubs targets for bribery.

These players operate on the fault line between professional and amateur soccer, where youthful dreams of greatness live side by side with end-of-career cynicism and frustrated mediocrity. They play below the radar of public interest, and often below the poverty line.

Regional players earn as little as 150 euros, about $225 — the legal minimum for a basic monthly salary, excluding match bonuses, in German Football Association guidelines. Five-figure salaries are very rare, the six- and seven-figure wages of top stars a mere dream. Some clubs are so poor that they are forced to lure players with promises of jobs with corporate sponsors or mileage payment for attending training.

“The regional leagues want to play professionally, but they don’t have the money the professional leagues have,” said Theo Zwanziger, the president of the German Football Association, which governs German soccer. “That makes the players in those leagues generally the most susceptible.”

In his office underneath the grandstand of the local stadium, the Ulm coach, Ralf Becker, put it more bluntly, saying, “They are all potential offenders.”

“When guys earn 500 euros to play soccer, you can’t allow bets worth thousands of euros and expect that it won’t have an impact,” added Becker, who says all betting on fourth-division matches should be banned. The betting on fourth-division matches happens largely in private betting companies.

“They have all the pressures of professional football: the fear of injuries, the weekly competition to be selected to play, the 90 minutes on the playing field on the weekend, the knowledge that your career is over at 35,” said Becker, a former professional player who retired at 34 because of an ankle injury.

“But Bundesliga players earn at least 10 or 20 times more,” Becker added, referring to the top level of German soccer.

The three fired players — Davor Kraljevic, 31; Dinko Radojevic, 31; and Marijo Marinovic, 26 — are a case in point. They are under investigation and suspected of rigging four matches last season and two matches this season for several thousand euros each.

Earning $4,500 to $6,000 a month, they were among the best and highest-paid players on the team. But as one official familiar with the investigation explains, their choice was between $525 in taxable bonus payments if the team had won, and about $7,500 in cash per rigged match.

“Their calculation was, get paid well to lose or get paid poorly to win,” said the official, who declined to be identified because the investigation is continuing.

The 163-year-old SSV Ulm club is in many ways a microcosm of the bittersweet world of German soccer, a blighted, little reported universe of shattered hopes, financial woes, low-level corruption and rarely realized dreams.

In 1997, Ulm started on the long climb that resulted in the near impossible: it rose from third to second division and then — for one short exuberant season — into the Bundesliga.

Holger Betz, 31, who was a substitute goalkeeper for the team then, recalled the thrill of playing in front of 85,000 people in the country’s biggest stadiums.

But the fall was as spectacular as the rise. By 2001, Ulm was back in the third division and insolvent, virtually bankrupted by the decision to retain its well-paid players. A former senior official of the club is under investigation for failing to pay payroll charges on players’ salaries in the years after.

Since then, the club has lived on $2.25 million a year and has been a typical fourth-division melting pot of would-be and former stars and a large group in the middle who are neither.

Twenty-year-old players like Burak Tastan, with boyish ambitions to join the German national team, play side by side with former stars like Heiko Gerber, who spent 10 years with Bundesliga clubs and at 37 is winding down his career. And there are players like Betz, who spent virtually his entire career here.

Now, no Ulm player earns more than about $5,500 a month before taxes. Players receive $225 for attending a match, and progressively more in the case of victory.

“Nobody here drives a Porsche,” Becker said.

Tastan, whose parents emigrated from Turkey and who speaks German with a Bavarian accent, drives his father’s car. He won’t say what he earns but says it is enough to live on.

Rigging a game for money?

“Never,” he said. “I could not do that to the fans.”

For all the frustrations, many here have an undiminished passion for the game. They are local heroes. Local children ask them for their autographs. They are, in many ways, living their boyhood dream.

Tastan, for one, says he feels fortunate to be paid at all to do what he loves most. Maybe, he admits, some players earn the same as waiters or hairdressers. “But we get to play football all day,” he said.
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Re: UEFA investigating 40 cases of match-fixing
« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2009, 02:51:24 PM »
Player Pulled Into Soccer Betting Maelstrom

December 9, 2009

OSNABRÜCK, Germany — What broke Marcel Schuon was his fear of the gun.

A middling player in Germany’s second-tier soccer league, Schuon had gambled away everything. He had borrowed from the bank. Built up debts with a dingy betting office. Borrowed more. Gambled more. Lost more.

But Schuon, 24, had always resisted when the betting office owner offered “an easy solution” — an own goal, or a handball in Schuon’s team’s next road game.

Then, in early April, a man at the betting office told him that the boss, a man identified by Schuon’s lawyer and the German news media as Nurettin G. — a stocky Turk in his 30s — had a gun. When Schuon next met the boss, on the city outskirts, he agreed to throw a game against Augsburg in return for having 20,000 euros, or about $30,000, in betting debts excused.

“He threatened me,” Schuon said in a recent interview. “He said he would always find me, wherever I went.”

Schuon, who was playing for VfL Osnabrück at the time, is the first player in the match-rigging scandal now coursing through European soccer to talk publicly about a deal to fix a game. As many as 200 matches are under scrutiny, 32 in Germany, including the Osnabrück-Augsburg match on April 17.

Schuon’s story powerfully illustrates how soccer players can betray their teammates, fans and the game: in Europe, a culture of gambling among professional athletes can lead to heavy debts, leaving players vulnerable to blackmail from match-fixing rings.

“The betting office is a place where match fixers meet players,” said one investigator who declined to be identified because the investigation is still continuing. “They monitor who is building up debts and then they have their target.”

Unlike in the United States, where betting among professional athletes is frowned upon, German soccer players and coaches are barred from betting only on matches in their own league. Betting on other leagues and other sports rarely raises eyebrows.

Schuon, who left Osnabrück in May to play for third-division SV Sandhausen but was fired on Nov. 30, reckoned that “80 to 90 percent” of the players he had met bet at least occasionally.

Schuon is scared. In a two-hour, late-night interview, he sat rigidly, clasping a glass of water. He spoke softly and rarely smiled. In the three weeks since four police officers arrived at 6.20 a.m., searched his apartment and took him in for five hours of questioning, his boyish face has been all over the German news media. Tabloid newspapers call his grandmother repeatedly. A religion teacher told his nephew that his uncle’s behavior was un-Christian. Schuon has been in hiding, starting therapy for his gambling and consulting his lawyer.

Schuon’s story is one of childhood dreams, early success and access to money when other teenagers had none. But it is also a tale of crushing parental expectations, of friendships compromised by unrelenting competition, of growing self-doubt — and of a teenage weakness for small bets becoming a full-fledged addiction.

He was 10 when a talent spotter from VfB Stuttgart, a club in Germany’s top league, the Bundesliga, saw him and asked his parents if he could coach him. “From that day on I wanted to become a professional player,” Schuon said.

A nimble defender, his rise was swift. At 16, he joined a special soccer school in Stuttgart, and a year later was included in the German national team for his age group. By 18, he was playing for Stuttgart’s second team and training with the first.

His parents were proud. For important matches, his mother would charter a bus for extended family. His father, who had first kicked a ball around with him when he was 5, advised him against learning a trade and to focus on sports.

As Schuon put it, “I bet my entire youth on soccer.”

It was his dream — but also his father’s for him — to play in the Bundesliga. The more enthusiastic his father seemed, the more unthinkable it was for Schuon to confide his growing unhappiness.

Others in the second team moved up to the first. He started losing his hair at 19 and took it badly when players mocked him.

When he was 17, a fellow player invited him to a betting office in Stuttgart. He bet $7 and won $1,500.

Schuon had money. At 16 and still living at home, he received $1,200 for mileage. When he joined Stuttgart’s second team, the club paid a bonus of $22,000 and a monthly salary of $5,100.

But Schuon compared himself to first-team players who earned significantly more. His bets increased to $150 apiece. When he moved to Osnabrück at age 22, earning a salary of about $12,000 a month, he bet as much as $1,500 a time. First once or twice a week, then every day.

He always went to the same small shop near the train station. He got lucky there once, early on. And the owner, Schuon said, let him bet on credit.

By October 2008, he had used up his savings of $22,000 and his bank overdraft of $12,000, and he owed $4,400 to the betting office. His bank loaned him another $29,000. By December, he owed the betting shop $7,300. The owner approached him, Schuon said.

“I thought he would give me a deadline to pay him,” Schuon said. “When I understood what he wanted I was even more shocked. I said no, I won’t do this. I am still young, I have a career ahead of me.”

He secured a second bank loan, for $44,000, and within weeks lost it. In January, the betting boss repeated his offer, and mentioned a figure: $37,000 for a successfully fixed match. Schuon refused. The betting shop let him gamble on.

In March, things changed. Schuon was given deadlines to pay. The pressure increased, he said. Schuon gave in on what he now calls Day X.

On April 15, two days before Osnabrück played Augsburg, he got a coded signal in the betting shop. “You will lose this match 0-3 anyway,” the owner said casually.

Nurettin G. is now in custody. Neither he nor his lawyer could be reached for comment.

Schuon said he never followed through on the field. Shortly before the match, his coach said he would play as a midfielder, rather than as a defender. As a defender, it would have been easier to fix the match.

Today, his coach’s decision could mean the difference between a prison sentence for actual match fixing and a fine, or suspended sentence, for mere agreement to do so.

Still, Osnabrück lost, 3-0, on April 17 and Schuon’s debts were forgiven.

For the rest of the season, Schuon said, the betting shop pressed him on every road game. What saved Schuon, on the last day of the soccer season, was the luck he had been chasing all along: he bet $1,000 and won $29,000. He left for Sandhausen in the summer with all his debts paid.

Only when the police arrived did the enormity of events dawn on him, he said. He had told nobody, not even his girlfriend, Sarah, who asked that her last name not be used.

Back in Osnabrück, the manager of the team, Lothar Gans, described Schuon as an introverted, sensitive young man who drove big cars and wore conspicuous clothes but was deeply insecure.

He said he was shocked by Schuon’s confession. A string of defeats cost the club its place in the second league and $7.4 million in lost television fees, sponsorship and stadium revenues. Employees had to be fired.

Asked whether he thought the Augsburg match was manipulated, Gans declined to speculate but said that for a single midfielder it was near impossible to engineer a precise score. “We played badly that day and our rivals played extremely well,” he said. “It is perfectly plausible that we just lost.”

Others are not so sure. The former coach Claus-Dieter Wollitz told the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung that he believed Schuon aimed the ball toward his own goal once.

Schuon still dreams of playing professional soccer again, maybe abroad.

His girlfriend disagrees. “Just a regular everyday job would be perfect,” she said.
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