May 20, 2010

Debrecen probed over match-fixing

Hungarian football club Debrecen is being investigated over allegations of match-fixing during a Champions League game against Fiorentina in October, the club's sports director said Thursday.

"UEFA officials questioned eight Debrecen players two days before our Hungarian league game against Ujpest (on May 15)," sports director Csaba Bartha told AFP.

"The officials were mostly interested in the match Debrecen-Fiorentina," he added, noting however that the European football federation was also probing "hundreds of matches" elsewhere.

"The inquiry surprised us because we played against much stronger teams in the Champions League who could have scored against us whenever they wished," Bartha added, hinting that the matches did not need to be fixed for Debrecen to lose.

"We are proud anyway that we were able to score three goals against Fiorentina in Budapest, and two goals in Florence in the second leg," he added.

Debrecen failed to win a single game in the group stages of the Champions League and was knocked out after facing Fiorentina, Lyon and Liverpool.

A UEFA spokesman confirmed to AFP earlier: "A team from UEFA was in Budapest last week to question players."

"These were informal talks to gather information," he added, without giving any further details.

"The inquiry is ongoing," he only said.

The spokesman would not say if the Debrecen probe was part of a wider investigation by German prosecutors into widespread match-fixing all over Europe.

Some 200 games in nine countries, including at least three Champions League matches were said to be under investigation as part of a Europe-wide betting scandal.

German television ARD meanwhile reported that an agent linked with several Debrecen players was also being investigated by UEFA.

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