The Criminal Court in Bochum Germany has sentenced the two ringleaders of an organize crime group which was responsible for fixing hundreds of football matches throughout Europe.
The Criminal Court ordered the men confined for no less than five and a half years in prison for gross violations of German gambling laws. The arrest of the organized crime group uncovered a tight network of corrupt players and officials in practically every country in Europe.
Almost none of the players, coaches and referees who allegedly accepted bribes have been banned or suspended. Without an admission of guilt it is almost impossible to prove that poor game play or a bad referee call were the result of bribery or plain incompetence.
The gang was composed of Croatians, Turks and Slovenians with some of the members having dual German citizenship.
The two leaders of the match-fixing organization, Ante Sapina and Marijo Cvrtak (both Croatian), were convicted of ordering gang members to bribe players and officials, thereby influencing the results of football matches throughout Europe. The bribes were usually in the neighborhood of £35,000 ($70,000) per game.
After ‘the fix’ was guaranteed, the group placed bets with a vast number of different brick-and-mortar and online sportsbooks in Germany as well as the rest of Europe.
The October 2009 Champions League soccer game between Debrecen and Fiorentina, a World Cup qualifier football game and several league games were among the hundreds of football games fixed by the organization.
One of the leaders of the gang, Ante Sapina, made a personal profit of over £2.4 million ($4 million) by placing multiple bets on sports matches in Germany whose outcome was already ensured.
Ante Sapina has been remanded without bond prior to and during the trial, and has already served 17 months of the 5.5 year prison sentence. Marijo Cvrtak. was remanded for the past 18 months.
Both men have been co-operating with law enforcement as can be clearly seen by the light prison sentences.
This betting scandal is the latest in a series of international cases involving organized crime groups who control hundreds of sportsbooks. These murky figures ‘fix’ the results of sports matches at the very last moment, sometimes in the middle of the game itself, to ensure the loss of the team which the majority of sports betters picked to win.l