Referee Scandal Threatens Germany's World Cup
Pointing the finger: Hoyzer (right) is accused of widespread match-fixing
Instead of a fanfare heralding the first opportunity for the public to book their places at the World Cup in Germany in 2006, alarm bells are ringing over a match-rigging scandal that threatens to sully the event.
Just over a day before the world's attention was to turn to Germany for the official release of World Cup 2006 tickets, the latest in the host country's moments in the sporting sun was eclipsed by a largely unknown second division German referee called Robert Hoyzer.
The German Football Federation (DFB) confirmed on Saturday afternoon that they had begun investigating Hozyer, 25, for fixing a cup match that he had apparently bet on. The Berlin-born referee resigned from his post on Friday when the probe came to light.
The match at the center of the scandal took place on Aug. 21, 2004, with regional side SC Paderborn and Bundesliga heavyweights SV Hamburg contesting a DFB Cup first round match.
With the 1983 European Cup winners leading the minor league minnows 2-0, Hamburg inexplicably saw their lead disintegrate. During an allegedly assisted comeback, Paderborn were awarded two dubious penalites, both of which were scored, and also benefited when HSV's Belgian striker Emile Mpenza was sent off for complaining against Hozyer's decisions.
The DFB, who will hold an emergency meeting on Monday following Hozyer's (picture) shock resignation, added that there was also evidence of manipulation of other games involving the the referee.
Fears of multiple offences
"Since Friday we have had evidence that he rigged games," DFB joint-president Theo Zwanziger said on German television station ARD. Hoyzer did not referee in the top Bundesliga division but had taken charge of 12 second division matches as well as cup and regional league fixtures.
"This case has caused great damage to the DFB," said Gerhard Mayer-Vorfelder, the other of the DFB's two co-chairmen, ahead of Monday's meeting. "Just from the psychological aspect, incredible damage has been done, for the German federation and for the referees' organization." Mayer-Vorfelder also called for a general ban on betting for referees.
DFB board president Horst Hilpert told German sports news agency SID on Sunday that the investigation into the scandal would be concluded as soon as possible. "It is always the obligation of the board of control to reach their conclusions swiftly, particularly in so stressful a case."
"We're going to see if prosecutors need to be involved," DFB spokesman Harald Stenger added in a separate statement. "We'll also want to talk to bookmakers. (The DFB) will leave no stone unturned in this investigation. From what we know at this point, this is absolutely a single case. No other referee, no player, no coach, no club is involved. I also want to stress that (Hoyzer's) denying all allegations."
"I have never bet on a game I have refereed," Hoyzer told the Bild newspaper on Monday. "The accusations have left me pensive, uneasy and dismayed. I cannot comprehend them, and also cannot understand that my refereeing colleagues could think me capable of such a thing."
Aggrieved HSV consider own action
Meanwhile, Hamburg officials are holding fire on action of their own until the DFB investigation is complete. "We are waiting to see how the probe develops and will stay in contact with the DFB to see how we should react," explained Hamburg chief Bernd Hoffmann told ZDF television. "If it is confirmed, we want some sort of compensation. Who knows how our season might have gone? We could still be going strong in the cup at this stage."
"Great damage has been inflicted on Hamburg SV and on German football," Hoffman added. "We will use all legal means to put right this wrong." However, there is little chance that the clubs will get the chance to right the wrongs on the pitch. The DFB has already ruled out any possibility of replaying the disputed match.
Another person involved was entertaining similar thoughts as to what would have happened if the outcome of the game had been different. Former HSV coach Klaus Toppmoller was in charge of Hamburg at the time of the match and claimed Hoyzer's corrupt decisions caused his dismissal two months later.
Toppmöller blames ref for sack
"The referee (Hoyzer) cost me my job as we were doing fine until the Paderborn game," raged Toppmoller in the Bild am Sonntag weekly. "After that it all went downhill.I had the impression that it was a match we could never win. I knew something wasn't right and I even told the referee's assistant at the time. But what can you do? If you say there is cheating going on, you could face a ban."
Referees now face increased scrutiny into their actions for the remainder of the season. The Hoyzer revelations are likely to increase suspicion when questionable decisions are made. "From now on all referee decisions will be questioned," admitted Oliver Bierhoff, assistant coach of the German national team, in a statement to reporters. "But I am sure this is just a one-off case."
Ghosts of 1971 scandal stirring
The DFB will surely hope so. While it is doing its upmost to prevent the Hozyer affair from enveloping German football ahead of the 2006 World Cup on home soil, the DFB will be sorely reminded of a previous incident which blew up into the biggest scandal in German football.
Match-fixing and bribes engulfed the Bundesliga in 1971 when more than 50 players, a number of coaches and officials plus the clubs Arminia Bielefeld and Kickers Offenbach were found guilty of offering bribes and fixing Bundesliga games, prompting the DFB to dish out hefty fines and suspensions.
DW staff / AFP (nda
Bent German Referee Admits Match-Rigging
Robert Hoyzer, the referee in the middle of Germany's biggest soccer scandal for 34 years, admitted match-fixing on Thursday, a day after suspicions of mafia involvement were raised in the case against him.
Robert Hoyzer, the German soccer referee at the center of the country's biggest soccer scandal for 34 years, has admitted that he manipulated a cup match between lowly SC Paderborn and Bundesliga side Hamburg SV. Hoyzer's decisions during the German Cup first round match in August last year handed the result to Paderborn.
TV news channel N24 reported that Hoyzer had told his lawyer he had fixed the result of the German Cup game, and also admitted to manipulating the results of at least four other matches.
It is assumed that Hoyzer's admission comes in the hope of leniency after the German Football Federation (DFB) announced on Wednesday it had taken legal action against the referee. Hoyzer is already the subject of an internal DFB inquiry looking into claims that he bet on the results of at least five matches he handled. And now he faces a legal probe by a court in Berlin.
By making a formal legal complaint, the DFB is hoping to flush out the people who stood to gain by the alleged match fixing. In a statement the DFB said they wanted to reveal the identity of "people who bet huge sums on matches refereed by Robert Hoyzer". The DFB said it also wanted to establish if these people had any links with the 25-year-old referee.
Earlier, German Interior Minister Otto Schily demanded a thorough investigation into the alleged match-fixing. "Referees who manipulate the result of matches for their own benefit must be shown a red card and sent packing," he told the Bild daily.
Investigation unearths suspected mafia links
Things got worse for Hozyer on Thursday when he was linked to Croatian mafia betting rings in Berlin. The DFB believes Hoyzer had been fixing matches so gangsters could benefit from huge wagers. "There appears to have been some contact with the Croat scene in Berlin," confirmed DFB press spokesman Harald Stenger.
Rolf Hocke, vice-president of the DFB, fuelled the mafia link, indicating that Felix Zwayer, Hoyzer's assistant, was threatened by the Croatian mafia before a second division match between Rot-Weiss Essen and FC Cologne in October last year.
"Zwayer was threatened on the phone and we know that Hoyzer was accompanied to away matches by Croats," Hocke told the Suddeutsche Zeitung."I can count down on five fingers why he had an entourage."
Bild claims that Berlin, where Hoyzer lives, is the headquarters of a Croatian betting mafia ring, claiming that a Croat made 500,000 ($651,000) from SC Paderborn's 4-2 win over SV Hamburg on August 21 last year.
Hoyzer was the offical for that cup tie, awarding Paderborn two questionable penalties and sending off Hamburg's Emile Mpenza for complaining as Hamburg surrendered a two-goal lead.
DFB looks to shore up security
In the wake of the Hoyzer affair, the German Football League (DFL) are on the brink of signing a contract with betting protection providers Betradar according to Kicker magazine. Betradar works in collaboration with 170 bookmakers and can immediately alert the DFL to any abnormal betting patterns on German football matches.
The DFB are also investigating the possibility that another referee, Dominik Marks, may have also been involved in rigging results, notably the game between Hertha Berlin and Arminia Bielefeld won by Berlin 2-1 on Aug. 11 last year.
AFP/DW Staff (nda)
Player pocketed suspect win bonus
Monday, January 31, 2005
BERLIN, Germany (Reuters) -- The captain of a German soccer team took money from an unidentified man before a game at the center of the nation's match-fixing scandal, his club said on Monday.
Dutchman Thijs Waterink accepted 10,000 euros before Paderborn's German Cup tie against Hamburg on the understanding he could keep the money if his side won.
"I think this 10,000 euros could be just the tip of the iceberg," club president Wilfried Finke said, referring to the nation's biggest soccer scandal in more than 30 years.
The first round match on August 21 was refereed by Robert Hoyzer who admitted last week that he had fixed matches.
First division Hamburg took a 2-0 lead before losing 4-2 after Hoyzer sent off their striker and awarded regional side Paderborn two controversial penalties.
Finke said he was willing to hold a rematch with Hamburg, who have said the result must be declared void. However, the quarterfinals are only four weeks away.
Paderborn lost on penalties to Freiburg in the third round.
Finke said there was no indication Waterink had sought to fix the result, just seek an additional bonus for victory. The club was also offering the team a far higher bonus for a win.
"I can only explain it as naivety to have accepted this money, possibly also in the particularly stressful situation directly before this Cup game," Finke said.
He added Waterink, whom the club have temporarily released, had not told his teammates about the money before the match, paying them 500 euros each a day later.
German football association (DFB) chiefs met on Monday to discuss the deepening scandal. DFB co-president Gerhard Mayer-Vorfelder has called for limitations on gambling, such as betting on the timing of the first yellow card.
Munich-based bookmaker ODDSET gave details on Monday of unusually heavy betting, predominantly from Berlin, on two matches under Hoyzer's control. It said it had written to the DFB about the matter on August 23.
Berlin prosecutors say the DFB has notified them of a suspected link between Hoyzer and a Berlin bar frequented by Croatian gamblers. Finke said Waterink had described his contact as being of south European appearance.
The authorities are holding three men detained on Friday.
Investigations are concentrating on the first-round Cup tie, two second division games and three others from the regional league. Soccer chiefs have warned that the scandal could yet draw in other matches and players.
Germany was rocked by a corruption scandal in 1971, with sanctions imposed on 53 players, two coaches, six officials and clubs Arminia Bielefeld and Kickers Offenbach.
Germany is hosting the 2006 World Cup and FIFA, soccer's world governing body, has urged thSourcee DFB to resolve the scandal as quickly as possible.