Soccer ref admits fixing games in Germany
A year before Germany hosts the World Cup, a referee's admission that he fixed games has the country reeling from its biggest soccer scandal 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 German soccer federation (DFB) 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.
"This case is exactly what should not be happening one year before the World Cup," said Rudi Assauer, general manager of first-division club Schalke.
"We are shocked; we never thought something like this was possible," added Volker Roth, the DFB's supervisor of referees. "But there is nothing you can do against criminal energy."
Some changes already have been made. The federation said it would announce referee assignments two days before games, instead of 10. It also will expand its system of monitoring games and referee performances.
Because of legal issues, there was no immediate ban on betting by referees. But the 44 referees who attended the DFB's emergency meeting said they had never placed bets and would not do so in the future.
The federation also plans to use an "early warning system" connected to bookmakers to detect unusual betting patterns.
Horst Hilpert, the head of DFB's control committee conducting the probe, said Hoyzer's admission "confirms fully" what the investigation has uncovered so far ¡ª "that Robert Hoyzer is suspected of profiting from high sums bet on games officiated by him."
His committee was questioning 14 other match officials, Hilpert said.
Hilpert said he expected Hoyzer to be questioned soon by state prosecutors before another hearing by the DFB. "It's an isolated case, we don't see another black sheep," he said.
Hoyzer, 25, 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 the federation expanded its probe to other games that he did not officiate.
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.