German ref on Greek soccer rot

BERLIN – Greece is not only involved in the match-fixing ring but is also a «paradise» for those who know how always to win in soccer betting, according to Robert Hoyzer, the German referee imprisoned for fixing a German Cup game in 2004. In his exclusive interview with Kathimerini, Hoyzer talks about the Greek contacts of the ring of the Sapina brothers from Croatia, who had hired him, and were involved with Greek soccer betting. Hoyzer told the court, which condemned him to 29 months in jail, about a certain «Costas» in Thessaloniki who was the Sapinas’s man in Greece. He told Kathimerini he has never met Costas, but «I know a lot about him. Costas would bet on selected matches for the Sapinas in Greece.» He suggests that Ante Sapina, one of the brothers found guilty for organizing the ring, met Costas «through another Greek involved in betting, who obviously pulls the strings; a very powerful person who handles several issues in Greek soccer and even has relations with Greece players. Ante spoke to him when he had some information about a match whose outcome was ‘certain’ in exchange for some information from the Greek about another such match.» The German knows little about that Greek strongman, but remembers that «Ante once told me that ‘this man has got contracts with half of the national team in Greece.’ I do not know if he was their manager or represented them in match-fixing.» The court saw Sapina’s betting slips which included the Panionios vs Dynamo Tbilisi UEFA Cup tie in Athens in December 2004 about which UEFA had launched an investigation for an unusual amount of betting on how the game would develop. Hoyzer, who mentioned this match in court, too, confirms the Croat brothers gambled on matches in Greece for which they always had inside information and always took pride on their earnings. He also confirms that Ante Sapina branded Greece a «betting paradise» in court, compared with Germany. «In Germany they investigate everything. In Greece and Croatia, everything was more rosy for the Sapinas. Ante once told me that in Greece there was no limit as to how much you would bet, unlike in Germany.»