ZAGREB: The speed with which UEFA dismissed suggestions of malpractice when Dinamo Zagreb crashed 7-1 at home to Lyon in the Champions League was back under question after a court in the Croat capital found 15 players and referees guilty of match-fixing and sentenced them for jail terms of up to 10 months.
This was the first major football corruption trial of its type in the Balkans. The 15 had all pleased guilty to having fixed eight matches and trying to fix three more. They have also been fined a total of €65,000, a sum replicating their betting profits on the matches. Six other people had been arrested initially but were released after turning state’s evidence.
The trial stemmed from information brought to light two years ago by Europe’s biggest-ever match-fixing trial, held in Bochum in Germany and the verdicts handed down only days after two senior officials of the Croat federation had been arrested on charges of match-fixing.
** Turkey has seen a new twist in its own football corruption crisis after parliament approved a law which would reduce drastically the maximum penalty for match-fixing from 12 years to three. Some 93 directors, players, coaches and referees are currently awaiting the start of their trial in February.
State President Abdullah Gül had previously vetoed the proposal which has the backing of major opposition parties, CHP and MHP.