Originally created 01/31/05

Player implicated in German soccer scandal



BERLIN - The first soccer player was implicated in Germany's widening game-fixing scandal Sunday, and prosecutors charged three men arrested in the case with fraud.

A referee also was replaced for a first-division game Sunday after his name surfaced during the investigation. The German Soccer Federation called the move "purely precautionary" and said it did not suspect Juergen Jansen of fixing games.

Michael Born, the business manager of third-division SC Paderborn, confirmed to The Associated Press his team had informed the federation that one of its players was involved with the Croatian betting group allegedly behind the fixing.

Club president Wilfried Finke told Sportbild magazine his player was given money for Paderborn's 4-2 German Cup upset of Bundesliga team Hamburger SV in August. He did not identify the player.

"It's true that one of our players had contact with the betting group and took money," Finke said. "After the game, he gave part of the money to his teammates."

The game was one of at least four reported to have been rigged. The investigation centers on referee Robert Hoyzer, who is accused of accepting bribes from the betting group. Hoyzer refereed the Paderborn-Hamburg game, which was decided on two controversial penalty kicks.

After Hoyzer was questioned by authorities, police on Friday raided in four places in Berlin, including a cafe where the referee reportedly met with gamblers and bookmakers. Four men were arrested and three charged. Hoyzer was not among those arrested.

Michael Grunwald, spokesman for the state prosecutor's office, told the AP the three have been charged with "a severe form of fraud" and have not said anything about the case. They could face between six months and 10 years in jail if found guilty.

The scandal came to light when four referees tipped off authorities about possibly suspicious activities by Hoyzer. Those four refs were replaced Saturday, which the federation said was done for security. For Saturday's Bundesliga games, all referees were reassigned at the last moment.

Federation president Theo Zwanziger said his organization wants to act quickly in resolving a scandal that comes with Germany to hold the World Cup in a little more than a year.

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reported last week that Hoyzer admitted receiving money for rigging three games and also implicated players and other referees. He apparently has said no first division games were involved.

Hoyzer said he was present when other referees received money from the betting ring in Berlin and had heard of players getting paid, the Sueddeutsche and other newspapers reported.

Bundesliga head Werner Hackmann expects a decision within two weeks on whether any of the games in question will be replayed.

Numerous politicians called for harsh punishment for those found guilty.

"Every player and referee that has participated in the manipulation should be dealt a lifelong suspension," said Edmund Stoiber, the conservative governor of Bavaria. "Germany has to be a believable host of next year's World Cup."