Europe rocked by fresh match-fixing scandal
European football braced on Friday for more details on a fresh match-fixing scandal reportedly involving huge sums of money placed with Asian bookmakers on suspect matches in nine countries, AFP reported.
Police across Europe carried out raids and arrests on Thursday, with German prosecutors suspecting that players, coaches, referees and officials from high-ranking European football had been offered bribes to throw games.
According to press reports, 15 people were arrested in at least six European countries, with around 100 suspects in total, with matches in Turkey the main focus of investigation.
Prosecutors, who have been working in tandem with European football's ruling body UEFA, were due to reveal more details at a news conference in the western German city of Bochum at 2:00 pm (1300 GMT) on Friday.
The Berliner Morgenpost daily cited one unnamed top investigator as saying the probe could result in "one of the biggest scandals in the history of professional football.
"This earthquake will shake the credibility of the sport for a long time," the paper quoted the investigator as saying.
According to information from AFP subsidiary SID, matches in at least nine European leagues were being investigated for signs that they had been manipulated.
These included matches played in Germany, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia, Switzerland and Turkey, SID reported.
Harald Stenger, a spokesman for the German Football Federation (DFB), said: "As far as the DFB knows, no German matches are affected."
But the German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported that one of the games being scrutinised was a friendly between German side SSV Ulm against Fenerbahce Istanbul in July.
The Turkish side won 5-0, and investigators suspect that "certain currently unidentified SSV Ulm players" received more than 10,000 euros (14,900 dollars) to throw the game, the paper said.
Reports also said that the ring was believed to have placed enormous bets with Asian bookmakers, where limits on the sums that punters can gamble can be several times higher than in Europe.
Two of those arrested in Thursday included two Croatian brothers living in Berlin, Ante and Milan Sapina, who were at the centre of a match-fixing scandal that rocked Germany in 2004, newspapers said.
That case saw referee Robert Hoyzer sentenced to two years and five months in prison after admitting being paid 70,000 euros (104,000 dollars) by a Croatian mafia ring to throw games.
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 were also affected.
Hoyzer was released after serving half of his sentence.