Austrian ex-footballers charged for match-fixing
GRAZ, Austria (AP) — State prosecutors have brought charges against former players Dominique Taboga and Sanel Kuljic as well as “other persons” for their alleged role in a match-fixing scandal that rocked Austrian football in November.
Prosecutors said in a statement Monday they won’t identify the other suspects or reveal any further details of the case before next week.
Criminal investigators have been interrogating 20 current and former footballers in Austria for their alleged involvement in fixing at least 17 league matches, including nine in the country’s top-flight division, since 2004. Three of the 17 matches under investigating were played this season.
Investigators said they obtained a list with 26 footballers’ names on it from two Albanian men, who were arrested in November for allegedly coordinating the fixing.
All first-division games under suspicion include either Kapfenberg or Groedig —both former clubs of Taboga, who has admitted he tried to persuade four teammates at Groedig to fix games last season and claimed Kuljic forced him into the fraud to settle a personal debt.
Taboga filed charges, claiming he was forced to pay Kuljic nearly 30,000 euros ($40,200) and was threatened by the retired Austria international after refusing to prevent Groedig from winning matches.
Prosecutors said Kuljic has claimed Taboga still owed him money from the time they both played at Kapfenberg in the first half of 2012. Kulic said he lent his then teammate 65,000 euros ($87,100) for home furnishings.
Both players were arrested in November, and the Austrian football federation handed Taboga a lifetime ban in February.
Kuljic retired in 2012 after tearing ligaments. Born to Bosnia-Herzegovinian parents in 1977, Kuljic scored three goals in 20 games for the national team but was overlooked by then coach Josef Hickersberger for the 2008 European Championship co-hosted by Austria and Switzerland.