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Arrests made in betting scandal



Published: Sat, January 29, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



A German referee claimed he received at least $65,000 to rig games.

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- Germany's biggest soccer scandal in more than 30 years deepened Friday when four people were arrested and a newspaper reported that a referee told prosecutors he was paid more than $65,000 to fix games.

The referee, Robert Hoyzer, admitted getting money for rigging three games and also implicated players and other refs, the newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung said.

Soccer's governing body urged the German federation to resolve the scandal, which comes with the World Cup in Germany just more than a year away.

Hoyzer said he was present when other referees received money from a Croatian-controlled betting ring in Berlin and had heard of players getting paid, the newspaper reported.

Arrests made in Berlin

Michael Grunwald, a spokesman for the Berlin prosecutors office, said four people were arrested on suspicion of fraud during raids on four premises in Berlin, including the cafe where Hoyzer allegedly met with gamblers and bookmakers. No other details on the arrests were immediately available.

The newspaper, a respected Munich-based national daily, quoted Hoyzer's lawyer, Stephan Holthoff-Pfoertner, as saying the betting ring first gave Hoyzer "small presents" without asking anything in return.

"When they had him by the hook, they started asking for favors on the soccer field," he said, according to the newspaper.

The Stuttgarter Nachrichten newspaper reported that the president of the German soccer federation said players could have been part of the fix.

"Even this cannot be ruled out anymore," Theo Zwanziger told the newspaper. "That makes me sad."

Hoyzer told the Bild newspaper "many more people are involved," but declined to give details.

Several games under scrutiny

The federation has accused Hoyzer of manipulating five games, four lower-division games plus a German Cup game. No top-division games were involved. Another game, one Hoyzer did not officiate, is under investigation.

Holthoff-Pfoertner said on television that more games were compromised and the case involved "several people working together in different functions."

"I am particularly concerned about indications that there are links to organized crime," said Interior Minister Otto Schily, who is responsible for sports.

In 1971, 53 players from seven German teams received penalties ranging from fines to life bans. Two clubs, Arminia Bielefeld and Kickers Offenbach, were demoted and their presidents and coaches suspended.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter wrote to the German federation, suggesting it cooperate fully with authorities while making its own inquiry. He expected the federation to act in an "exemplary manner."

FIFA will hold a workshop for 46 referees in Frankfurt next month. The officials will be advised, among other things, on how to handle "attempts to place them under pressure and illegal approaches from third parties," FIFA said.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.




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