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BC-SOC--Georgia-Match-Fixing,1st Ld-Writethru

May 20, 2019
Eleven soccer players in Georgia have been arrested on suspicion of match-fixing and face lengthy prison sentences. The State Security Service says eight current players and three former players have been arrested in relation to matches in the country’s two top divisions. Five were members of the WIT Georgia squad which lost to league leader Dinamo Batumi 2-0 on Sunday in one of the games under investigation. Players from two lower-league clubs are also among the suspects.

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — Eleven soccer players in Georgia have been arrested on suspicion of match-fixing and face lengthy prison sentences.

The State Security Service said Monday that eight current players and three former players were arrested in relation to matches in the country’s two top divisions.

Five were members of the WIT Georgia squad which lost to league leader Dinamo Batumi 2-0 on Sunday in one of the games under investigation. Players from two lower-league clubs are also among the suspects.

Kakha Kaladze, a two-time Champions League winner who is now mayor of Tbilisi, condemned match-fixing in a television interview.

“For me, as for former player, such actions are unacceptable and everyone needs to pay the price for such actions,” he told Georgian TV. “This is not sport, it is something else.”

The security service said the players were approached by an “organized group” which made 93,500 lari ($34,000) off the match-fixing. Authorities showed video footage of what they said was the group of match-fixers discussing the game and later receiving money.

The players face between four and six years in prison under Georgian legislation.

The Georgian soccer federation said it is cooperating with the investigation.

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