German referee bribe suspicion emerges in match-fixing scandal

German referee bribe suspicion emerges in match-fixing scandal
Ref Robert Hoyzer got 2 1/2 years in jail for a 2004 scandal. Photo: DPA
A referee from the German Football Association (DFB) was allegedly bribed during the enormous football match-fixing scandal uncovered last week, according to Der Spiegel magazine.

The referee was in charge of a southern regional league game in May when he supposedly took money to influence the outcome.

The regional club SSV Ulm 1846 is also allegedly more heavily involved in the scandal as previously thought, with four of its games from the final phase of last year’s season considered suspect.

The state prosecutor in Bochum, which is leading the investigation, says that around 200 European games, including 32 in Germany, could have been manipulated.

Three games in the third league, 18 in the regional leagues, five in the upper league, two under-19 games and four games from the second Bundesliga are affected.

Games in eight other European countries are also being investigated, largely first-league matches.

In addition the suspicion is that games in the top European competitions could have been fixed, with 12 in the Europa League and three of the Champions League matches being examined.

Around 200 people, including trainers, players and referees are suspected to have been involved in the manipulation. These include two former and one current player in third-league VfL Osnabrück, according to a report in Die Welt newspaper on Saturday.

The leaders of the match fixing ring are said to live in Berlin, Nuremberg, the Ruhr area and a town near Osnabrück, reports Der Spiegel.

The scandal looks like it is the biggest in European football history, putting the credibility of the sport into question. Peter Limacher, head of the disciplinary office of the European football association Uefa, said officials had been shocked by “the scale of the coordinated game manipulation of these international gangs.”

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