German football under fire in match-fixing affair
28 January 2005, HAMBURG - Football's governing body FIFA is pressing Germany to clear up a match-fixing scandal involving a referee that has cast a shadow over preparations for the 2006 World Cup. The country's once impeccable football image was badly tarnished when Robert Hoyzer admitted on Thursday that he manipulated several matches he officiated at in the German cup and at levels below the top-flight Bundesliga, and that he was not acting alone. Seemingly co-operating with a Croatian betting syndicate
28 January 2005
HAMBURG - Football's governing body FIFA is pressing Germany to clear up a match-fixing scandal involving a referee that has cast a shadow over preparations for the 2006 World Cup.
The country's once impeccable football image was badly tarnished when Robert Hoyzer admitted on Thursday that he manipulated several matches he officiated at in the German cup and at levels below the top-flight Bundesliga, and that he was not acting alone.
Seemingly co-operating with a Croatian betting syndicate in Berlin, Hoyzer said in an interview with the Bild daily published on Friday that he received some EUR 50,000 for his efforts over the past year.
FIFA said in a press release Wednesday that it was "deeply concerned ... that his actions went undetected for so long."
"This is a slap in the face of German football. This is exactly the kind of case which should not have happened one year ahead of the World Cup," said Schalke 04 manager Rudi Assauer.
The German football federation DFB was tipped off by the Oddset betting office after a cup match in August surrounded by unusually high bets and officiated by Hoyzer, who awarded two disputed penalties and sent a Hamburg player off in lowly Paderborn's 4-2 win over Bundesliga club SV Hamburg.
DFB bosses Theo Zwanziger and Gerhard Mayer-Vorfelder were not informed until Friday last week, a day before the DFB went public with the allegations.
"The 2006 World Cup is just over a year away and German football, and with it the DFB, are now in the spotlight. The burden is therefore on the DFB to continue to give their full support to the investigating authorities and to pursue their inquiries within the association itself," FIFA boss Joseph Blatter said in a letter to the DFB.
In addition, there has been criticism that the federation waited too long before handing over the case to state prosecutors, which they did on Wednesday, given the murky area of sports betting.
After all, illegal sports betting is an area which even state authorities have trouble penetrating let alone a sports federation.
"As soon as the authorities close one illegal betting office another one opens a few streets away. And the area of internet betting can hardly be controlled either," the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily said on Thursday, citing from a classified report from Bavarian police to the interior ministries of the other German states.
The huge expansion of illegal sports betting in Germany - with arms trading, money laundering, tax evasion and the formation of organised crime groups part of the scheme as well - has partly to do with Germany's legislation.
While private betting companies are allowed in horse-racing, state-run Oddset - which is also a national World Cup sponsor - is the only official German company for those who want to bet on football matches.
There are private oddsmakers based in other European Union countries and others who were set up in former East Germany, but the laws governing them as "chaotic", according to legal expert Heiko Lesch.
Hoyzer has agreed to be a key witness for the DFB and prosecutors in order to bring light into the case, which could be the biggest scandal in German football history.
Now the DFB is wasting no time.
"It is clear that we have get to the bottom of it as soon as possible," said Zwanziger. DFB chief prosecutor Horst Hilpert vowed to "clear up the case regardless of who is involved."
In addition, the DFB has been ordered to report to FIFA.
"We have no doubt whatsoever that the DFB will act in an exemplary manner and will endeavour to keep FIFA updated on the results of their investigations, and, where possible, on the findings of the relevant authorities," said FIFA.
Subject: German news