September 13, 2013

Slovaks are behind Czech football match-fixing scandal, police says

A group of Slovaks played a key role in a football corruption scandal in the Czech Republic and it manipulated the Slovak league matches' results as well, according to Slovak police, Police President Tibor Gaspar told reporters yesterday.

Seven people have been accused in the case, he added.

The gang was allegedly bribing footballers and then it gained money by betting on the manipulated matches, mainly via foreign online betting operators.

The Slovak group rigged at least 19 soccer matches in the Czech Republic and in Slovakia in the past year, Gaspar said.

The gang gave bribes of some 210,000 euros in total to football players, allegedly some 2000 to 60,000 euros per match.

The Slovak police estimated that the gang had gained 50,000 euros per fixed match.

"According to available information, the main organisers of this match-fixing and corruption were Slovaks. They masterminded the whole process of illegal betting," Gaspar said.

However, the gang's boss was a foreigner, probably from an Asian country, from whom the gang members received money to bribe players.

The group first chose a match from which it wanted to profit, then it addressed some footballers and offered them a bribe for match-fixing, Gaspar said.

He also described the communication between the gang and players during the match.

"If the mediator kept sitting at the stadium, he thereby sent a signal to the footballers saying the offer held and they should try to reach the agreed result. If he left the stadium, it was a signal that their match was not in the offer of the online (betting) operator," Gaspar added.

Three former football players were offering the bribes, Gaspar noted.

Four Slovak first league DAC 1904 Dunajska Streda players are accused of bribe taking. They are suspected of having manipulated results of four out of eight league matches this season.

Detectives traced the gang thanks to a Czech football club's player whom the gang had allegedly offered a bribe but he turned to the police.

The Czech anti-corruption police have so far accused 12 present and former football players of bribery within the match-fixing case.

The police made 15 searches of homes and other premises in a raid on Wednesday morning. Several players have been reportedly arrested within the raid.

Czechs investigate the case in cooperation with the Slovak police.

During the police raid in Slovakia on Monday, policemen searched homes of the suspects finding 49,000 euros in cash and communication devices which the fraudsters used for their criminal activities.

This was the biggest bribery scandal in Slovak football in the past years.

The Slovak Football Association, which helps detectives in the investigation, has appreciated the police work.

"It is in the interest of the football movement to clean it up of any corruption symptoms," the association said in reaction to the affair.

Slovak footballers face up to two-year ban from playing for match-fixing and their clubs would be expelled from the league.

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