Mystery Murders May be Linked to Betting Scandal
14 december 2009
Police say they may have a lead in one of the most mysterious series of murders in German criminal history -- the execution-style killings of nine shop owners since 2000, eight of them Turks and one Greek.
The press dubbed the murders the "Doner Killings" because the victims were all small businessmen and included a kebab shop owner, a grocer, a tailor, a flower seller and a key cutter.
Police now believe the killings may be linked to theuncovered by public prosecutors in Germany last month.
In October, police had monitored several telephone conversations about a murder in Turkey in which a 42-year-old Turk suspected of belonging to an illegal gambling syndicate was named as having hired the hitman.
Police say there's a link between the murder in Turkey and the nine killings. "The 42-year-old plays a role in this case," Thomas Koch, the spokesman for the Nuremberg district court, told SPIEGEL. He declined to give details.
Gambling Bosses Used Violence to Collect Debts
The link with the gambling world could finally provide a motive for murders which have puzzled police forces around Germany for years. Had the murdered men run up gambling debts?
The Bochum investigators have found that the people being probed for fixing matches and engaging in illegal gambling also behaved violently towards people who got behind in repaying gambling debts.
Police have no doubt that the "Doner Killings" were committed by a professional assassin. The attacker or attackers walked up to the victims in broad daylight, shot them in the head and walked away. There were never any eyewitnesses, and the relatives always insisted the victim had no enemies, debts or gambling addiction.
But perhaps they did. There's no paper trail in the world of gambling now being investigated by prosecutors based in the western city of Bochum. The gamblers know how much they owe and when they have to pay up. They can defer payments, but get charged interest of 10 percent per month. And anyone who can't pay is in bad trouble.
Police investigating the betting scandal came across debtors who reported having been locked in a cellar and beaten up because they couldn't pay.
The lawyer of the 42-year-old Turkish suspect told SPIEGEL that his client had nothing to do with the murders and that the accusations were based on slander that had long since been disproved.
20 november 2009
Prosecutors Say up to 200 Matches Were Fixed
European football is reeling from news of a fresh match-fixing scandal involving nine countries and up to 200 games.
At a news conference the prosecutors said that about 200 games were thought to be affected, including three Champions League games and 12 Europa League games. The investigation, carried out with the European football association UEFA, has been ongoing since the beginning of 2009.
The betting scandal involves huge sums of money placed withon matches in Europe and players, coaches, referees and officials are included among the suspects. In all around 100 people could be involved in the match-fixing conspiracy.
Fix On in Germany as Well?
Games in at least nine European leagues are being probed, including matches played in Germany, Austria, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia, Switzerland and Turkey.
On Thursday Harald Stenger, spokesman for the German Football Federation (DFB), said: "The UEFA and DFB early warning system for the overseeing of the betting markets had not given any indications of match-fixing in Germany."
However, on Friday the prosecutors said that 32 games in Germany alone are suspected of having been fixed. There are indications that four games in the second league, three from the third league and 18 from regional leagues are tainted, as well as matches in the youth leagues and international competitions.
Thursday's arrests included two Croatian brothers, Ante and Milan Sapina, who were at the center of a previous match-fixing scandal in Germany in 2004. That case saw refereesentenced to two years and five months in prison after he admitted to accepting bribes to manipulate games.
23 november 2009
Match-Fixing Scandal 'Struck at the Heart of Soccer'
The European match-fixing scandal is tragic for soccer fans whose faith in fair play risks being shattered, write German commentators. But corruption can infect any business, and the undercover police operation that exposed it is a positive sign, they add.
Last Friday's revelation of the latest European soccerpredictably caused a public outcry that was fanned by investigators' claims that the figure of 200 manipulated matches may be only the tip of the iceberg.
The case centers on a Berlin-based betting shop, Café King, which featured in a similar scandal five years ago that led to the conviction of German referee Robert Hoyzer.
The suspected games in Germany were played in the second division or lower. Other countries involved are Belgium, Switzerland, Croatia, Slovenia, Turkey, Hungary, Bosnia and Austria. Croatian-born Ante Sapina was among five people arrested in Berlin. He was convicted of fraud in 2005 and sentenced to 35 months in prison for fixing or attempting to fix 23 games by paying Hoyzer to rig matches.
SPIEGEL has learned that a German referee registered with the DFB German Football Association also appears to have been bribed, in a lower-division match played in May. The DFB was kept in the dark about the investigation into the alleged match fixing.
Meanwhile on Monday Italian police arrested nine people on suspicion of manipulating matches in the country's third division and betting illegally.
Writing in the Monday's editions of German newspapers, several media commentators said the case highlights the successful undercover investigation conducted by the public prosecutor's office in the western city of Bochum in cooperation with police forces in other countries over the last eight months. They were helped by members of the UEFA, the Union of European Football Associations, which founded an anti-corruption unit this year.
Commentators say the DFB's "early warning" system, which was introduced after the first scandal five years ago and which aims to detect corruption by analyzing conspicuous changes in betting odds, appears to have failed.
The left-wing Berliner Zeitung writes:
"There's no question that corruption poses an existential threat to football that is comparable to the destructive impact doping has had on endurance sports. The audience must not lose its faith that the outcome of the match is uncertain. It must remain convinced that skill and fortune alone are the determining factors, and not some shady backroom dealmakers.
"What the task force of UEFA and the prosecutors in Bochum who specialize in economic crime have presented is not a diagnosis. Instead, it's the promising result of a global attempt to solve the problem which seems to make more sense than the early warning system introduced in this country following the match-fixing scandal surrounding referee Robert Hoyzer. The effectiveness of that system must now be called into question.
"It seems that plots conducted in secret must be countered by secret means. Football, a billion-euro business with absurd growth rates, is an almost uncontrollable area due to the impenetrable links between sports officials, politicians, sponsors and the media.
"Following the American example, more cops must be deployed to infiltrate the dark network of fraudsters. And if the network of agents doesn't work, one should maybe one day think about a general ban on sports betting."
The center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung writes:
"At the news conference on Friday in Bochum, a police officer used the much-quoted image of the tip of the iceberg. But police officers aren't the Oracle of Delphi and a degree of caution is warranted in cases like this one. It's not such a big surprise that matches can be fixed in the second Belgian division or in the Balkans. The less a player earns, the greater the danger that he will do dodgy things for dirty money. It's rather more remarkable that the first German Bundesliga (editor's note: the top German soccer league) hasn't appeared on the list. Do high incomes, legally paid, protect players from infection?
"The Bochum investigators deserve praise. They haven't shied away in their investigations from probing the leagues in Belgium or Slovenia. If they're serious about their probe, they shouldn't be left alone in this never-ending task."
Franz Josef Wagner, a columnist for the mass-circulation daily Bild, writes:
"The match-fixing supposedly happened in the lower divisions. Players with mega-salaries in the first division can't be bought. So the cheating happened where the heart of soccer beats. The cheated fans are the ones who stand shivering on the sidelines in the wind, the cold and the rain. The ones who turn up every Sunday and yell things like 'go on, shoot!,' 'pass the ball,' 'what are you waiting for?' or 'my granny could have saved that one!'
"I feel sorry for those fans. It wasn't a lack of fighting spirit that kept your player from hurling himself at the opponent. It was a few euros. From today on, I'm taking a break from football. I don't want to be screwed anymore."
-- David Crossland
Case Files Reveal Unscrupulous Methods of Match-Fixers
The match between FK Slavija Sarajevo and the Slovak club MFK Kosice on July 30 was nothing out of the ordinary in the match schedule of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). It was just the third qualifying round for the Europa League, and only 1,400 fans watched the game.
It was a perfidious plan that police in the western German city of Bochum uncovered in a covert investigation. With the help of a 22-year-old Swiss national and a 34-year-old Croat, Sapina is believed to have contacted a doctor working for FK Slavija Sarajevo before the match. The doctor was told to pay a €3,000 ($4,470) bribe to a cook at the hotel where the guest team, MFK Kosice, was staying. The cook's job was to stir drugs into the lunch of the Kosice players, drugs designed to reduce their performance, because Sapina was betting on a Sarajevo win.
The investigators are convinced that the cook accepted the bribe. However, they are unable to prove without a doubt, based on wiretapped telephone conversations, that the drugging actually took place. And even if it did, Sapina's bet wouldn't have paid off: MFK Kosice won the match 2-0.
'Manipulating the Game'
But the plan alone offers "insights into the structure of the perpetrators," who "unscrupulously ignored the dangers to completely non-involved professional football players." Sapina and his associates, the investigators noted, were "even pleased and amused by this new approach to manipulating the game."
A screenwriter working on a film about gambling syndicates couldn't have been more effective at conjuring up this episode from the shady world of European professional football, which is identified as Case File 10.10 in the investigative report. It shows how much criminal energy was behind the efforts by Sapina and his associates to fix football matches. Some of the defendants come from a background in which extortion, theft and assault appear to be part of everyday business -- men like Deniz C., a 30-year-old Turk who owns several nudist and sauna clubs in Germany's Ruhr region and is now behind bars.
The sheer scope of the alleged cases documents the obsession with which these gamblers pursued their fraudulent betting activities. The day after 15 suspects had been arrested in a nationwide series of raids, police said that about 200 matches in nine European countries were suspected of having been fixed. The number of countries involved has now increased to 17.
First Player Ready to Testify
Meanwhile, the first of the accused professional players is now willing to come clean. A former second division player and his attorney are scheduled to meet with prosecutors in Bochum in the next few days. The player is expected to report how members of the gambling syndicates made him dependent on them by granting him a six-figure loan. In return, his creditors are believed to have forced him to help them fix matches.
The case is growing by the day. Contrary to the claims of sports officials seeking to downplay the situation, the match-fixing activities of Sapina and his cohorts have not just affected matches in lower leagues, such as the Upper League South of the Northeast German Football Association or the Third Turkish League. Investigators have also set their sights on top-level events, where any evidence of match-fixing would be potentially devastating to this highly profitable entertainment industry. There is probably nothing more detrimental to business than the suspicion that matches could have been fixed.
According to investigators, one of the matches being looked at is the World Cup qualifying match between Bosnia-Herzegovina and Turkey on Sept. 9. They believe that an attempt was made to bribe the Bosnian coach with €500,000, so as to enable the Turks to achieve a "guaranteed victory." Sapina is believed to have known about the attempt to fix the match, but the coach apparently turned down the offer.
Investigators also believe that two matches in the second qualification round for the Champions League may have been fixed: both the first leg between FC Copenhagen and FK Mogren Budva on July 15 and the return match in Montenegro a week later. In both cases, the Danes won 6-0, and in both cases Marjia C., a Croat living in the southern German city of Nuremberg and one of the key defendants in the criminal investigation proceedings, is believed to have tried to bribe players and officials.
By the end of last week, prosecutors had not provided the attorneys with photocopies of the roughly 300-page investigative report -- apparently "for reasons relating to investigation tactics."
As a result, a defense attorney who was trying to determine what exactly the charges against his client were, was forced to travel to Bochum, to an office on the 11th floor of a building that houses the local judicial authorities. Andreas Bachmann, the public prosecutor conducting the investigation in the case, opened a secured glass door to allow his visitor to enter the office, but only after the visitor had entered the correct four-digit code at the entrance, and then led him to a small room furnished with a chair, two tables and a plain wooden shelf with 45 binders on it.
Those binders contain the key documents in the case: an investigative report filed under reference number 35 Js 40/09, the case files on the individual defendants and telephone surveillance reports. The attorneys are prohibited from photocopying anything, although note pads and dictaphones are permitted.
The information in the documents is potentially explosive. For instance, one of Sapina's backers is believed to have been William Bee Wah Lim, a Malaysian who was supposed to "implement gambling interests among Asian gambling syndicates."
Lim is a colorful figure in the betting world. On June 1, 2007, a Frankfurt court convicted Lim of attempted match-fixing and sentenced him to two years and five months in prison. After proceedings that lasted more than a year, the betting kingpin confessed that he attempted to manipulate six matches in the German Second League and in regional leagues, as well as two matches in Austria's top league.
When they searched his confiscated computers, investigators with the Hesse State Office of Criminal Investigation found plenty of incriminating evidence that Lim had wagered millions of euros in the Asian betting market on matches in German professional football, matches that he had most likely manipulated. The most noticeable was a match between Hannover 96 and 1. FC Kaiserslautern on Nov. 26, 2005. Lim had bet €2.8 million ($4.2 million) on a Hannover victory.
How to Win €2.2 Million on a Match
The match, which Hannover won 5-1, made Lim €2.2 million. The match had hardly ended before Lim wrote the word "Beer" in an instant message via Skype to his agent in Asia, who had placed the bets for him. The agent replied: "Congrats!!!! Hehehe. Dance."
The 200 pages of records of Lim's Skype communications were not admitted as evidence in court because the public prosecutor's office felt that they were not sufficiently conclusive. Lim, a former cook who used multiple names, apparently had both a Chinese and a British passport and used various dates of birth in his documents, was released on bail of €40,000 before the end of his sentence. He fled Germany shortly after his release, and a warrant for his arrest was issued at the beginning of 2008. Lim's former defense attorney was on vacation last week and could not be reached for comment.
Now Lim has resurfaced. He is believed to have been in close contact with the Croat national Marjio C. from Nuremberg, who apparently ran the gambling ring together with Sapina. The defendant C., according to the files, described Lim as "his good friend." Investigators have not been able to pinpoint the fugitive Lim's whereabouts in Europe or Asia, and they have only managed to locate one of his accounts -- with a bank in the Swiss capital, Bern.
According to the documents, Sapina usually placed his bets on the Asian betting market through a brokerage firm in West London, where he was in touch with two employees, one of whom called himself Joseph Chang and the other Eric Ho. Both were part of the "China connection," which investigators believe includes Sapina's contacts in the Netherlands and Malaysia.
Accounts Around the Globe
Sapina's betting millions circle the globe, but they left no traces in German accounts. The betting mastermind from Café King had learned his lesson from the Hoyzer scandal. Sapina apparently had a man in Malaysia named Marc launder the illegal proceeds he is believed to have earned from fixed football matches. Investigators have discovered that this Marc withdrew the money from Sapina's betting accounts with two Asian betting operations, deposited it into accounts with the Bank of China in Hong Kong and Malaysia, and then transferred it back to England. Other defendants are believed to have circumvented the German tax authorities by having their illegal betting earnings transferred to accounts in Austria, Scotland, the Netherlands and Malta.
Ivan P., a German of Croatian origin who investigators believe acted as a "bookkeeper" of sorts for Sapina, was apparently one of the middlemen who allegedly transferred the betting proceeds abroad. They also accuse Ivan P., who is now under arrest, of having passed bribes to football players in five cases. Commenting on the charges, P.'s defense attorney Michael Tsambikakis told SPIEGEL: "Based on the information at my disposal to date, I cannot see that my client played a manipulative role in relation to a football match." Last Monday, Tsambikakis filed an appeal against the warrant for his client's arrest.
Meanwhile, criminal investigation specialists are trying to disentangle the international web of dubious monetary transactions. The investigators noted: "Based on the results of telecommunications surveillance, there is evidence of cash flows in the millions."
For a period lasting several weeks and ending in January 2009, investigators tracked down balances totaling about €3.5 million in five "Sapina accounts" in Asia. This spring, €721,500 was apparently deposited into another of Sapina's betting accounts over a period of six weeks to cover 17 bets. Contrary to his gambling nature, he invested his betting proceeds in foreign real estate, as investigators have discovered.
Football was apparently not the only sport Sapina and his associates bet on when "structuring matches according to their needs." According to the last few pages of the investigative report, investigators suspect that the gambling syndicate also manipulated a women's doubles match at a professional tennis tournament in Fes, Morocco. They also believe that Sapina tried to fix a game in the playoffs in Germany's national basketball league.
Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan
German National Team Keeper Commits Suicide
Robert Enke is dead. The 32-year-old national team player took his own life on Tuesday evening at a train crossing near Hanover, as his friend and advisor Jörg Neblung confirmed late Tuesday.
Enke returned to his homeland joining Bundesliga side Hannover 96 in July 2004 on a free transfer in an initial two year deal. His career enjoyed its greatest success and stability, as he became firmly established as the club's first choice and was voted the best goalkeeper in the league by his fellow professionals in Kicker magazine.
2004–2009 Hannover 96
Interview with Match-Fixing Investigator Declan Hill
'I Am Sure the Game Was Manipulated'
SPIEGEL: You have spent three years investigating the international betting mafia. Have you lost all pleasure in football?
Declan Hill: I love football the way one loves a woman, but by now I ask myself quite early on in a match, whether there is anything suspicious going on. There are no precise statistics about betting manipulation in football, of course, but it is shocking how often people in the world of betting talk about matches that have been manipulated – not just in Asia or Eastern Europe, but also in the major football leagues, such as in Germany, and even during world championships.
SPIEGEL: Is that something you would have expected?
Hill: Absolutely not, and that’s why I took plenty of time in the book to allow the reader to follow my own process of realisation. I still vividly remember standing at the edge of a dusty track after meeting an informer in Ghana, with the wind blowing down from the Sahara, thinking: This is just incredible.
SPIEGEL: In your book you say you think that the match between Brazil and Ghana in the round before the quarterfinals at the 2006 World Cup was fixed. The starting point for your investigation is an infamous Asian fixer. How did you meet him?
Hill: That was a drawn-out process that took months. In the Asian gambling world, every insider knows his name. He’s said to have been manipulating games for 15 years, his name turns up in the case files of match fixing in Asia. He organizes the bets and their manipulation. In my book I called him Lee Chin. In November 2005 he invited me to a golf club on the outskirts of Bangkok. The conversation that ensued over the next two and a quarter hours was one of the strangest I have ever had.
SPIEGEL: In what way?
Hill: He claimed he was a leading member of a syndicate that manipulated football matches. He said he had 16 runners, that is middle men who approach the players, coaches or referees. And all the time we were talking to each other, one of his two phones would keep ringing. One call came from the Philippines, where the Southeast Asian Games were taking place at the time. After the phone call he said he had made sure that Laos would only lose 0:1 to Singapore. Fine, manipulated games at Asian sporting events, that isn’t all that surprising, but then he claimed to manipulate games at other major sporting events.
SPIEGEL: Did he give examples?
Hill: He said he had been at the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996 and had seen to it that Tunisia lost the opening match against Portugal. He claimed that he approached a couple of the Tunisian players. They refused to take money from him, for religious reasons, so instead he alleges he sent them beautiful Mexican prostitutes. Tunisia lost 0:2. Lee Chin said: “I won a great deal of money and everyone was contented.”
SPIEGEL: Did you believe him?
Hill: That evening I was torn to and fro all the time. Just before the interview Thailand’s Prime Minister Thaksin publicly voiced the suspicion that many events at the Southeast Asian Games had been manipulated. As regards the 1996 Olympic Games, Chin’s assertions can hardly be verified any more. What is interesting is that finally, just before 10:30, one of Chin’s telephones rang once again. He spoke in some language which I did not understand. After the call he said the Bundesliga game between Hannover 96 and 1. FC Kaiserslautern, which was just about to begin a few thousand kilometers away, had been fixed. Naturally I had heard of the Hoyzer scandal in German football, but it nevertheless seemed incredible to me that this sort of thing should be possible in a major league in which the professionals earn so much money. He did not tell me who was purportedly on the take but the match ended with the result that he predicted and 10 days later is was publicly revealed that some matches in the South-East Asian Games had been fixed, and a number of players were imprisoned.
SPIEGEL: But why did Chin agree to meet you in the first place and tell you this kind of thing?
Hill: I asked myself the same question for a long time. Maybe because he wanted to prove to the world how good he is, and a book like this may have sounded tempting to him. Maybe he felt flattered by the fact that someone from such an alien world -- a journalist and academic from Oxford University -- took him seriously and treated him respectfully. Perhaps it also has to do with the fact that, thanks to my research into match-fixing, I spoke his language.
SPIEGEL: He wanted you to recognize his art?
Hill: I think so.
SPIEGEL: He is a gambler, did he play with you too?
SPIEGEL: Why do you safeguard his identity and refrain from using his real name in your book?
Hill: Because he would kill me.
Hill: I know I’m playing with fire, but there is a limit to my courage and heroism. I was often warned before interviews to leave the subject alone. Two journalists, Johnson Fernandez and Lazarus Rokk, who exposed match fixing in Malaysia some years ago, were sent a fake bullet bearing the sign “the next one is for real.”
SPIEGEL: Chin then offered to allow you to witness him fixing a match during the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany. That sounds like a cock-and-bull story.
Hill: Yes, but that’s what happened.
SPIEGEL: How exactly did he go about it?
Hill: After our first meeting in November 2005 I stayed in touch with him. He then reported about the preparations and the name of one country was mentioned very often: Ghana. He told me that people from his syndicate had already been in touch with a few of Ghana’s players during the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens and that he had succeeded at the time in getting Ghana to lose the final match against Japan. He claimed contacts existed now and that things would go ahead. Then, on 25 May 2006, he told me to come to a Kentucky Fried Chicken branch in a shopping center in the north of Bangkok. I was to witness the deal being negotiated. Why was I allowed to be present? No idea. I sometimes got the feeling that Chin viewed my skepticism as a personal affront.
SPIEGEL: What happened there?
Hill: When I entered, four men were sitting at a table: Chin, next to him two younger Chinese, and a black guy, a large, athletic man in a blue shirt and blue jeans. I sat down a few tables further along, I was rather nervous, my hidden camera wasn’t working, instead I tried to take a photograph with my mobile phone. The black man was supposed to be a runner, the middle man for the Ghanaian team. Chin said that the man claimed he had access to a number of players and officials from his country but that he needed an initial down payment in order to secure the team’s trust. The meeting lasted a little over an hour. Later Chin phoned me and was jubilant.
SPIEGEL: Did you know who the black man was?
Hill: Chin told me that in his office, two days after the meeting. He said he was a coach for Ghana’s under 17s team, someone who knew his way around Ghanaian football. Chin said the man had obtained the consent of eight of Ghana’s players. A few days earlier I had read in the newspaper that Ghana’s team would receive $20,000 for each victory at the Word Cup. I asked Chin whether that wouldn’t be more important to Ghana’s players. He replied: “But a victory is not 100 percent certain. And each player is guaranteed to receive $30,000 from me. Get it?” And at the end of our conversation he asked me whether I had taken a photograph in the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. “I was able to see you,” he said. “I know you tried to take a picture. I know. I know everything.”
SPIEGEL: Did he threaten you?
Hill: No, but I felt very uneasy, after all I was recording this conversation too. After that I realized I had to be more careful.
SPIEGEL: You then flew straight to the World Cup in Germany?
Hill: I watched Ghana’s first game against Italy in my flat in Oxford. Incidentally, Chin had predicted that Italy would win by at least two goals. Italy won 2:0, the performance of the Ghanaian team felt very strange, they seemed to play well but I thought there was something odd. Even before the final whistle I jotted down my opinion on a slip of paper: This game was manipulated. Now to this day, I do not know if that is true or not, but I flew to Germany where I booked into the Hotel Maritim, where the Ghana team was staying in Würzburg, to find out.
SPIEGEL: Was that easy to do?
Hill: Interestingly enough, it was. Anyone who wanted to could get up close to the Ghanaian players. During the six days I was there, I was in touch with almost all the players, coaches and officials. No problem. Of course I looked around for the Ghanaian runner, the man from the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in Bangkok, but I never saw him. It was very sociable in the hotel, and superficially everything seemed to be in order, no sign of the runner, no Asians hanging around. Two days before the match against Brazil in the round of 16, Chin called and said that the deal with someone in the Ghana camp was on, 100 percent, he said. He was absolutely certain Ghana would lose by at least two goals.
SPIEGEL: June 27, 2006, the match ended 3:0 for Brazil.
Hill: The Ghanaians played as though they were putting their whole heart into it, but then there were a number of stupid mistakes: passes didn’t succeed, the defense was careless, the team collected three stupid goals. After the game I was in the stands in Dortmund with tears in my eyes because I was convinced, at least emotionally, that the match had been fixed. I phoned Chin from the stadium: “I didn’t believe you, but you are a genius.” He said: “How can I be a genius if I earn so little money with this?”
SPIEGEL: What did you do in order to find out whether your feelings weren’t misleading you?
Hill: After the World Cup I first of all had to finish writing my dissertation in Oxford but in the summer of 2007 I flew to Ghana to find the runner. A crazy plan really, but if there was anyone who could confirm Chin’s stories then it was that runner.
SPIEGEL: How did you find him?
Hill: By chance. While I was in Ghana, Ghana’s under-23 team played Iran. After the game there were reports that someone had tried to fix the game, one of the coaches was dismissed from the team. A newspaper printed a photograph of the coach: it was the man from the Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant. His name is Abukari Damba.
SPIEGEL: And then you met him?
Hill: Yes, four times in all. The first time was in a bar called the Bus Stop, and after that in the Beverly Hills Hotel both places in Accra. Damba had been one of the goalkeepers in the great Ghanaian team surrounding Abédi Pelé in the 1990s. Later he played in Malaysia and met a Malaysian match fixer there. He had been the under-17s coach for Ghana and for a short time an assistant coach of the under-23 team. At a hearing by the Ghanaian association about the attempted fixed match against Iran, Damba confessed to having put players from the team in touch with the two Asians and an Iranian, and to have received money in return.
SPIEGEL: And what did Damba say about the World Cup match between Ghana and Brazil?
Hill: He had also been in Würzburg with the same match fixer from Malaysia, where they had stayed in a hotel opposite the Ghanaian team quarters, and Damba also admitted that he had gotten the Malaysian access to the team and that the match fixer also approached the team captain Steven Appiah.
Hill: Damba says that he doesn’t know what happened after that.
SPIEGEL: Did you speak with Appiah about the accusations?
Hill: Not just with Appiah, but also with the goalkeeper Richard Kingson and other national players too. They all assured me that they were completely unaware of any possible manipulation of the team in Germany. However one of the players did admit that he had been approached by Asian betters in 2004 during the Olympic Games. And they all said that Appiah was the captain of the team and that I should to talk to him. I met with him in an industrial area in Accra. We talked in his car and he said that he had been approached a number of times in the course of his career and that he had taken money too. The first time was in 1997 during the under-17s World Cup in Malaysia and also in 2004 at the Olympic Games in Athens; however he had been given money in order to win games, not to lose them. He claimed that he then shared the bonus among all the players.
SPIEGEL: Ghana’s team captain, who was until recently signed up to Fenerbahce Istanbul, says that he accepted money from outside agents?
Hill: That’s exactly what he said. I wanted to confirm this, so I spoke to him again over the phone, and he repeated his account.
SPIEGEL: And during the 2006 World Cup in Germany?
Hill: He was approached there too, but he says that he refused. I also asked him whether the Malaysian had gone to other teams too. He replied: “Yes, I think he did the rounds.”
SPIEGEL: But you don’t know which of Ghana’s players might have been involved?
Hill: No, but I am nevertheless sure that the game was manipulated. Once again: there is an Asian betting manipulator, Lee Chin, who announces that he will fix a game during the World Cup. He allows me to witness a preparatory meeting at a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in Bangkok. This meeting is attended by the former Ghanaian national player Abukari Damba and a match fixer from Malaysia. The two of them travel to Germany and approach players. And the match ends as predicted by Chin.
SPIEGEL: But does a player want to deliberately lose the round of 16 match at the Football World Cup, and into the bargain against the world champions from Brazil, which could make him famous?
Hill: In Ghana making it into the last 16 was already considered a huge success. After the victories against the Czech Republic and the United States, they were celebrated as heroes -- and after their defeat by Brazil too. Besides, there had been a huge argument within the Ghanaian delegation a week before the start of the World Cup. It was about the payment of the players, the functionaries wanted to use the money paid by FIFA mainly for advancing football. But the players suspected the officials of wanting to put it into their own pockets. They wanted to be paid well and were in quite a bad mood. However, I want to stress that not all the Ghana players were involved. Many were trying as hard as they could to win the match.
SPIEGEL: Ghanaian football is known for its corruption scandals, games in the Ghanaian premier league are fixed, last year the club of football hero Abédi Pele made it into the first league, they needed to win by a large margin and, somehow, the match ended 31:0. But how strong is the influence of Asian manipulators on games in Europe?
Hill: The Asians are only just discovering how excellently manipulation works here too. They still lack direct access in Europe. Europeans take care of that because they know the football players who are susceptible. They know who is corrupt and pass on their knowledge to the Asians.
SPIEGEL: Have you informed the world football association FIFA of your findings?
Hill: I visited Joseph Blatter in Zürich and told him that an Asian fixer had told me the outcomes of matches before they were played in the 2006 World Cup. He did not believe this to be true. If it had happened, he said, then it had not affected the overall outcome. But if it were true “then all the work done by FIFA during the past 30 years was in vain. In that case, we have failed.”
SPIEGEL: Could one say that the betting ring leader Ante Sapina, who bribed the referee Robert Hoyzer in the most well-known German case to date, is more a sort of pre-industrial gambler?
Hill: If he had joined forces with the Asians no one would ever have got onto him. Hoyzer and the Sapina brothers were really primitive in their methods.
Interview conducted by Christoph Biermann and Michael Wulzinger.