Footballer banned for 8 months for match-fixing

BERLIN: A German footballer was banned for eight months on Thursday after being implicated in the match-fix scandal that has rocked the game in the country.

Steffen Karl, 35, was handed the punishment by the German football federation (DFB), having already been given a nine-month suspended prison sentence for his role in the affair.

The player, who turns out for regional side VfB Chemnitz, was the sixth and last individual to be dealt with.

He had earlier admitted meeting Ante Sapina, head of a Croatian mafia betting ring in Berlin, in a hotel and accepting an 8,000-euro bribe to play below his best in Chemnitz's 4-0 league defeat against SC Paderborn in May 2004.

Sapina was one of three Croatian brothers reported to have made two million euros (US$2.33 million) from betting on "fixed" games and Ante, the main orchestrator of the match-fixing operation, was recently sentenced to two years and 11 months in prison.

Milan and Filip Sapina received suspended jail sentences of 16 months and one year respectively.

Disgraced referee Robert Hoyzer started the scandal back in January when he admitted to accepting bribes to fix four matches for the Croatian betting ring.

Hoyzer, 26, was jailed for two years and five months while another former referee Dominik Marks - implicated by Hoyzer - was handed a suspended 18-month sentence for his part in rigging matches.

The match-fixing scandal has cast a dark cloud over host nation Germany ahead of the 2006 World Cup, running from June 9 to July 9.

Source: China Daily

People's Daily Online ---