Finland to charge 9 players over bribes

by AP on May 21, 2011

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Nine former players in Finland will be charged with accepting bribes as part of a wider probe into match-fixing in the Nordic country's football league, a regional prosecutor says.

Two of the nine players, who all played for Rovaniemen Palloseura, will also be charged with assisting in bribery, said Maija Mononen, a district prosecutor from the Lapland Prosecutor's Office.

She declined to name the players or give further details until formal charges are read in court when the case opens next month.

Earlier this month, two Zambian brothers from AC Oulu, another Finnish league team, were convicted of taking 50,000 euros ($A67,200) in bribes to influence the outcome of a game last year.

Donewell and Dominic Yobe confessed to playing "below their normal level" during a 5-0 loss against TPS.

The cases are linked to a match-fixing investigation which began in February when Finnish police arrested a Singaporean man with false identity papers.

He is suspected of bribing players at three Finnish clubs, including the two Zambians and the nine former Rovaniemen Palloseura players.

Court officials said charges were expected to be brought against him in the next few weeks.

Investigators, who cannot name the suspect until he is formally charged, said the Singaporean first contacted football players in Finland in late 2009.

He is suspected of match-fixing in 2010-11, involving at least 10 games and three clubs.

The third club was not named but the league season opened this month without three-time champion Tampere, which was suspended last month for links to suspected fixers from Singapore.

In a separate, bigger match-fixing probe in Germany, a Croat and two co-defendants were convicted of fraud by a German court on Thursday.

Ante Sapina was sentenced to 5 1/2 years in prison after confessing to fixing more than 20 matches, including a World Cup qualifying game and several matches in the top European club competitions.