CORRECTED: Football: Former Zenit player admits to helping fix UEFA Cup match
Former Zenit Saint Petersburg defender Erik Hagen said Wednesday that he had paid a referee to fix a UEFA Cup match during his time at the Russian team.
The 38-year-old Norwegian footballer said it was customary to pay for match-fixing and he and his teammates each paid a referee $3,000 (2,180 euros) to secure the outcome of a UEFA Cup match between 2005 and 2008.
"We had some crazy victory bonuses in Europe, $12,000. Before the match, this player says each of us should give $3,000 of the bonus to the referee, so that we could win," Hagen told Norwegian daily VG.
"I can't remember which match it was ... I asked 'what's going on' and they just said 'You've got to get used to this because that's how it is'," he was quoted as saying.
Asked whether he had brought the issue to the attention of UEFA he said he would "tell them the same thing if they ring me".
"Someone has to be the first to do this," he said.
"There are lots of rumours about corruption in international football."
Later Hagen told Russia's ITAR-TASS news agency by phone that the match that he was talking about was Zenit's 2-1 UEFA Cup group stage victory over Portugal's Vitoria Guimaraes.
In October 2005 Zenit beat them in the UEFA Cup clash, which was officiated by the referee Dejan Delevic of Serbia and Montenegro.
"What evidence do I have?" Hagen told ITAR-TASS.
"After the match the atmosphere in the dressing room was a bit strange, not like after the regular victory.
"Who exactly paid the referee? All the players paid a bit. I think there was a team meeting where this decision was taken. Unfortunately I don't know Russian and didn't understand anything of what was said at that meeting."
Meanwhile, Zenit denied the allegations completely.
"We are deeply astonished by the statement of Erik Hagen," a spokesman for the Russian team, Evgueny Gusev told the state news agency RIA Novosti.
"Zenit has always followed and follows the principles of fair play and proves its worth only on the football field."
© 2014 AFP