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November 25, 2009

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Germany sets up match-fixing task force

GERMAN authorities have set up a task force to deal with the findings of the match-fixing investigation of 200 games in nine European countries.

German football federation (DFB) president Theo Zwanziger said football had to work closely with state prosecutors because they were dealing with organized crime.

"On our own, we would be helpless," Zwanziger said.

Zwanziger said he had talked to Bochum prosecutors leading the investigation and has been promised cooperation.

Some football officials have complained that they had not been given enough information by the prosecutors.

The task force includes officials from DFB and DFL, the German football league that runs the country's top two divisions of 18 clubs each. Its job would be a "transparent handling off all suspicions," Zwanziger said.

Bochum prosecutors leading the investigation into the match-fixing scandal, believed to be the biggest in Europe, have targeted about 200 people suspected of manipulating games.

Zwanziger did not release names and said he regretted that names of some players and clubs from the minor leagues have been circulating in the German media.

But he promised that the "truth will come to light."

On Monday, Bochum prosecutors again declined to divulge any names.

"In undercover investigations, the circle of people in the know should be held as small as possible," spokesman Bernd Bieniossek said.

Authorities have arrested 15 people in Germany and two in Switzerland.

German police said they have caught the ringleaders of the gang that bribed players, coaches, referees and officials to fix games on behalf of a betting syndicate.

Among those arrested was Ante Sapina, who was convicted for organizing the match-fixing in Germany at the heart of a scandal in 2005 involving referee Robert Hoyzer.


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