GRAZ: Austria’s most far-reaching matchfixing scandal has ended with jail sentences being handed down to the players at the centre of the scan between 2004 and 2013.
Former Austria international Sanel Kuljic has been jailed for five years for matchfixing and threats of physical harm to other players while Dominique Taboga, a former teammate at Kapfenberg, was given a three-year prison term.
The scandal covered manipulation of 18 domestic league games in Austria’s first and second divisions from 2004 to October 2013. All top-flight games under suspicion included either Kapfenberg or Groedig — both former clubs of Taboga, who was issued a lifetime ban by the Austrian federation last in February.
Eight of the 10 defendants, who included three more former players, were handed prison sentences. Two others were released because of a lack of evidence. All may appeal.
Kuljic, who played 20 times for Austria until 2007 and retired five years later, was convicted for his alleged leading role in the scandal. He and four others were charged for physically threatening players after some of the match-fixing attempts failed.
The five men allegedly forced them into handing over money, cars and a laptop to settle the bets they lost.
The players allegedly received €7,000 to €25,000 per match on behalf of betting rings from Austria, Albania, Serbia and Chechnya.
The nine-year-long scam came to light last November when Taboga filed charges against Kuljic, claiming his former teammate was blackmailing him over an unsettled debt.
Criminal investigators later obtained a list with 26 footballers’ names on it from two Albanian men after they were arrested for allegedly helping the players coordinate the fixing and placing of bets with Asian online bookmakers.
Prosecutors said investigations were ongoing, and 15 more people could still be charged for their alleged involvement.