Referee admits to fixing games in Germany
By NESHA STARCEVIC, Associated Press Writer
January 27, 2005
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- A German soccer referee admitted to fixing games and said Thursday he was ready to cooperate with prosecutors to clear up the sport's biggest scandal in the country in more than 30 years.
"The accusations made against me in the public are true,'' referee Robert Hoyzer said in a statement issued by his lawyer.
"I regret my behavior profoundly and I excuse myself to the German soccer federation, my referee colleagues and all soccer fans,'' the statement said.
The German soccer federation accused Hoyzer of manipulating the outcomes of at least five games in Germany's lower divisions and the German Cup after betting on them. He initially denied the charges.
"We are shocked; we never thought something like this was possible,'' said Volker Roth, the federation's supervisor of referees. "But there is nothing you can do against criminal energy.''
Rudi Assauer, general manager of first-division club Schalke, said, "This case is exactly what should not be happening one year before the World Cup.'' Germany is hosting the 2006 World Cup.
The German soccer federation (DFB) plans to ban betting on games by referees and will install an "early warning system'' to find out when usually high sums are bet on a specific game.
Hoyzer said he had given a "comprehensive, no-holds-barred account of everything he knew about the case and persons involved in it'' to his lawyer, Stephan Holthoff-Pfoertner.
The N24 television news channel said Hoyzer had implicated others and acknowledged the existence of an organized crime betting group.
According to a television channel in Berlin, TV.BERLIN, Hoyzer received a "five-digit'' sum to manipulate games.
The German magazine Stern reported Wednesday that Hoyzer had regular contact with organized criminals from Croatia involved in betting. The DFB said it had also heard of such reports but had no means of verifying them.
On Wednesday, the DFB filed charges against Hoyzer with Berlin prosecutors, who are examining the case.
Hoyzer said he was willing to testify before state prosecutors and the DFB.
The DFB first suspected Hoyzer of manipulating a German Cup game in August, then expanded its probe to other games. Hoyzer did not officiate any of them.
In the German Cup game, third-division Paderborn rallied from a two-goal deficit to beat first-division Hamburger SV 4-2 after Hoyzer awarded two penalties to Paderborn and sent off a Hamburg player.
The game came under scrutiny because of Hoyzer's questionable decisions and because bookmakers had reported unusually high sums placed on a Paderborn win, but the DFB could not find indications of match-fixing.
However, the DFB reopened its investigation after four referees alerted soccer authorities that games might have been fixed by Hoyzer.
The last major corruption scandal in German soccer came in 1971, when 53 players from seven clubs received penalties ranging from fines to life bans. Two clubs, Arminia Bielefeld and Kickers Offenbach, were demoted to a lower division and their presidents and coaches were suspended.