Are football games manipulated

Organized crime : How scammers manipulate football

In Strasbourg they want to save football. At the end of September, participants from 37 countries gathered up on the second floor of the bright, box-shaped Council of Europe building. None of them kick the ball full-time, but they work in ministries and public prosecutors, in the police and betting regulators, in sports associations and betting providers. It's about the big bucks, about the influence of organized crime on the game.

Football should be protected from fraudsters who manipulate it in order to reap high winnings. They are debating this up on the second floor, at the third conference on “The fight against the manipulation of sporting competitions”. The focus is on the establishment of national platforms that are intended to serve as information centers for clues about match-fixing - regardless of whether they come from the police, sports associations or betting regulators.

Organized crime has long been involved in football. And the fraudsters have evolved, as an insider reveals. Instead of approaching individual players or referees, they are increasingly looking for clubs in financial need, posing as sponsors and promising large investments. Once they have penetrated the club, they commit players in cooperation with managers and advisors who are supposed to manipulate matches specifically for them.

There were also indications for Bayern's 0: 4 in St. Petersburg

In this way, a Chinese entrepreneur has taken over smaller clubs in Portugal, Ireland, Romania, the Czech Republic, Latvia and Lithuania and commissioned game results in recent years. Clubs in Austria, Switzerland, Italy and Spain were also infiltrated in a similar manner. With absolutely safe tips, the masterminds can then bet on their own games. And sometimes it's about bribes in big football.

It has now been exactly ten years since news from Spain startled not only German football, but all of Europe. Bayern Munich lost 4-0 against Zenit St. Petersburg in the Uefa Cup semi-finals in the spring of 2008. 0: 4! What some hardly dared to suspect in view of the clear result, could be read in Spanish newspapers three months after the game. That things might not be right. That was manipulated. Payment was made for a specific result. This is what "El Pais" and "ABC" assumed.

Telephone transcripts from a Petersburg mafia gang were available in the newspapers. It was about murder, kidnappings, drug trafficking - and the soccer game between Munich and St. Petersburg. "You paid her, damn it," says someone with the code name "Misha" in a phone call with a certain Gennady Petrov.

“Do you know how much they gave Bavaria? 50 they gave "

The judicial authorities in Spain had been investigating the so-called Tambovskaya Mafia for some time - and finally had 18 leading figures arrested, including Petrov. Investigative judge José Grinda described the Tambovskaya gang at the time as “the largest Russian and fourth largest criminal organization in the world”. She is said to have maintained close ties to high-ranking Russian government officials - and probably also to Zenit St. Petersburg. “Do you know how much they gave Bavaria? They gave Bavaria 50, ”the phone logs continued. In another conversation, another group member said to his buddy, "I'm gonna tell you something, damn it. Later, not on the phone, I'll tell you how the semi-finals and the final went. "

Is it really possible that a semi-final in such a high-level competition could have been rigged? Just three years after the scandal surrounding referee Robert Hoyzer? Even ten years after the Munich debacle in St. Petersburg, this question remains unanswered. Match fixing is a difficult field. Sports associations and state authorities need to exchange ideas. The public prosecutor's offices in different countries must cooperate. And they have to be willing to spend the time and resources on it - and above all have an interest in really wanting to solve a case.

For the Spanish judiciary, the possible postponement of a foreign football game was of little importance. However, according to information from "ABC", she had serious suspicions that the game had actually been postponed. Despite the information from the Spanish authorities, the Munich public prosecutor saw no reason to investigate.

After more stories about the game Zenit against Bayern in 2010, Michel Platini and Gianni Infantino, then President and General Secretary of the European umbrella organization Uefa, met with Bayern bosses Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Karl Hopfner. Then the Uefa decided to put the case to the files. Since then, there have been no further investigations into the Zenit case against Bavaria. This shows how little attention is paid to match fixing. The fact that a case goes to court is the big exception.

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