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Last Updated: Friday, 10 March 2006, 23:50 GMT
Four held for German match-fixing
Robert Hoyzer
German referee Robert Hoyzer admitted receiving bribes
German authorities have arrested four people in Frankfurt on accusations of football match-fixing.

Prosecutors said players were offered thousands of euros to influence the outcome of at least five matches.

The allegations are a major embarrassment three months before Germany hosts the World Cup, says the BBC's Ray Furlong in Berlin.

They follow a scandal last year when a German referee was jailed for accepting nearly $80,000 in bribes.

German football had hoped to clean up its image following Robert Hoyzer's scandal, says our correspondent.

No 'good timing'

State prosecutors in Frankfurt said that the arrests came after investigations into match-fixing in the second division and regional leagues.

They said attempts were made to fix five matches on which bets had been placed.

"The players were promised sums amounting to several thousand euros for desired match results," said senior prosecutor Thomas Bechtel.

"In at least one case the offer was accepted and payment... occurred," Mr Bechetel said.

There is no good or bad timing for something like this
Theo Zwanziger
DFB president

With less than three months before the World Cup starts, the German football association, the DFB, has started a damage-limitation exercise, says our Berlin correspondent.

DFB president Theo Zwanziger said that in this case there were no referees involved and that the allegations were much smaller in scale than in the last scandal.

However, Mr Zwanziger said: "There is no good or bad timing for something like this but the fact that it happens before what will be the biggest event in Germany over the next 50 years or so obviously makes it even worse.

"And now it is essential to act forcefully, to keep calm and to name what has happened, to clear it up and to prosecute."



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