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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 November 2005, 12:26 GMT
Jail sentence for German referee
Robert Hoyzer
Disgraced referee Hoyzer co-operated with the investigation
Referee Robert Hoyzer has been sentenced to two years and five months in prison for his part in Germany's biggest match-fixing scandal.

The 26-year-old admitted fixing or trying to fix nine matches.

The prosecution recommended that Hoyzer be given a suspended sentence, but judge Gerti Kramer opted for a custodial term.

"It wasn't a youthful misdemeanour but a serious crime," said Kramer. "He violated his duty of neutrality."

Hoyzer appeared shocked by the verdict and left the court in Berlin without speaking to waiting reporters.

He said in Tuesday's final arguments: "I'm very sorry about all the people I lied to and cheated. I've damaged German soccer greatly."

He will remain free until his appeal is heard.

"We and Mr Hoyzer are very disappointed by the verdict. Even the prosecutors had sought a suspended sentence," said Hoyzer's lawyer Thomas Hermes.

Dominik Marks, another referee, denied involvement in the outcomes of four games but received a suspended sentence of one and a half years.

Ante Sapina, the Croatian who orchestrated the match-fixing for a betting ring, was jailed for two years and 11 months.

Sapina's brothers Filip, 38, and bar-owner Milan, 40, were both given suspended sentences for aiding Ante's criminal operation.

The threat of prison will make people think before trying to influence a football match
German football association president
Theo Zwanziger

Suspicions were raised when lowly Paderborn came from 2-0 down to beat former European Cup winners SV Hamburg 4-2 last year in the German Cup.

There were two debatable penalties and a mystery sending-off in the match.

According to the indictment, Ante Sapina made more than 500,000 from Paderborn's victory.

Referee Hoyzer later admitted taking 46,000 and a flat-screen television in return for influencing the match.

Marks was accused of amassing 25,000 for his involvement in four games.

German football association president Theo Zwanziger said he was happy with the rulings 10 months after allegations first surfaced.

"The threat of two and a half years in prison will certainly make one or two people think before trying to influence a football match," he said.

The fraud trial has caused major embarrassment to Germany's football establishment just eight months before the country stages the 2006 World Cup.

It is not over because ex-professional Steffen Karl, formerly of first division Borussia Dortmund and a Uefa Cup finalist, is still being tried separately in connection with the match-rigging scam.

The case of Karl, who denies ever under-performing or seeking to lose a game, continues.

In all, 23 games were listed by prosecutor Thorsten Cloidt as suspicious.

Most were lower league games and all but two were between German sides.

The exceptions were a friendly between Hansa Rostock and Middlesbrough, and a Turkish first division match between Galatasaray and Ankaragucu in April 2004.


SEE ALSO
Karl arrested in German scandal
11 Mar 05 |  Europe
Greeks investigate match-fixing
07 Dec 04 |  Europe
FA tackles match-fixing
29 Mar 04 |  Football


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