BUDAPEST: Hungarian football club Debrecen is being investigated over allegations of match-fixing during a Champions League group-stage game against Fiorentina in October, the club’s sports director said.
“UEFA officials questioned eight Debrecen players two days before our Hungarian league game against Ujpest [on May 15],” said sports director Csaba Bartha. “The officials were mostly interested in the match Debrecen-Fiorentina,” he added, noting however that the European football federation was also probing “hundreds of matches” elsewhere.
Europe-wide sweep The spokesperson would not say if the Debrecen probe was part of a wider investigation by German prosecutors into widespread match-fixing all over Europe. Some 200 games in nine countries, including at least three Champions League matches, were said to be under investigation as part of a Europe-wide betting scandal. German television ARD meanwhile reported that an agent linked with several Debrecen players was also being investigated by UEFA.
But Bartha played down the probe, hinting that the matches did not need to be fixed for Debrecen to lose. “The inquiry surprised us because we played against much stronger teams in the Champions League who could have scored against us whenever they wished,” said Bartha. Debrecen failed to win a single game in the group stages of the Champions League and was knocked out after facing Fiorentina, Lyon and Liverpool.
Published in the Express Tribune, May 21st, 2010.