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Game-fixers may have drugged players

  • AP, Friday, November 27, 2009 3:45 PM

A lawyer for one of the suspects arrested in the global game-fixing scandal said the international gang under suspicion supplied sedatives to team doctors and hotel cooks to drug players in matches to be manipulated. Lawyer Burkhard Benecken said prosecutors believe the gang did not shy away from "locking up people in basements" or "sedating players" and that they "were extremely violent."

Benecken said the doctor of a Slovenian team was given sedatives to use on his own players, and the chefs in luxury hotels were given drugs to disable players. Benecken, who represents one of 15 people arrested in Germany, added, "Whether it actually happened is not known."

In what is believed to be the biggest match-fixing scandal to hit Europe, 200 games are suspected of being fixed to benefit the gang of gamblers. Qualifying matches in the UEFA Champions League are believed to be among the suspect games. The gang is suspected of bribing players, coaches, referees and other officials to manipulate games. The ring leaders are believed to have made at least $15 million.  Benecken's client is accused of kidnapping and fraud and is suspected of making nearly $1.5 million in bets on fixed games.

Theo van Seggelen, secretary general of FIFPro, the international umbrella group of players' unions, said most of the players were not to blame: "Only in exceptional circumstances are players involved. In most of the cases, the people involved are agents and people outside the locker room. We should not underestimate the problem, but we should not overestimate it either. Thousands of matches are played by thousands and thousands of players. Professional players play to win. "It's a team sport. You can't ask a whole team to (fix a match). Only the goalkeeper can do it and if he does it once he is thrown out of the team."

 

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