Game-fixing scandal grows

Ongoing investigations into European soccer’s match-fixing scandal disclosed further allegations yesterday, including more details on connected rackets believed to have operated in Greece. German referee Robert Hoyzer, 26, currently being held in secret custody for questioning about his alleged involvement in the match-fixing scandal, yesterday provided a Berlin prosecutor with further details regarding the case’s Greek dimension. Hoyzer’s information, as well as information extracted from a Croatian mafia group believed to be connected, was transferred to public prosecutors in Athens and Thessaloniki for further inquiry. According to UEFA, the governing body for European soccer, five investigators from EU member states were already in Thessaloniki examining the case. The UEFA sources said that a team of investigators, comprising two Germans, two Italians and two British officials, would arrive in Athens either today or tomorrow for further investigation. Furthermore, early next week, two of UEFA’s legal representatives are expected to travel to Athens to cross-check information with local prosecutors, as well as to question certain players at the Panionios club. These were not named. The Athens-based Panionios club is suspected of being involved in the match-fixing scandal, following reports of a rigged result in a UEFA Cup match last December against Georgian club Dynamo Tblisi. Just days ago, UEFA confirmed that it was investigating the encounter won by the Greek team, 5-2, at its Nea Smyrni stadium. Hoyzer, the German referee, claims that a Croatian mafia group made up of brothers, who have since been arrested, bet on Dynamo Tblisi winning at halftime and Panionios at the end. The referee has already admitted to fixing several matches for financial gain, but officials suspect he was involved in more games. The spotlight is now on Panionios following revelations by local radio station SKAI that a Georgian betting website had posted progress and full-time scores of the Panionios-Dynamo Tblisi encounter three days in advance. According to SKAI radio, investigations indicated that the European match-fixing ring operated from a Thessaloniki base covering the Balkan region. It was run by between five and seven Greeks, a citizen of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, and a Turkish national carrying a German passport, the radio station reported. Investigations conducted so far indicate that over 70 games, official and friendly, were rigged throughout Europe over the past two years, with Berlin as the match-fixing ring’s headquarters. Commenting on the issue yesterday, Greece’s Deputy Culture Minister Giorgos Orfanos, the government’s top sports official, urged the ongoing investigation to «shed full light on this case.»

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