Austrian player admits to match-fixing attempts
VIENNA (AP) — The Austrian football player who claimed to be blackmailed by former international Sanel Kuljic admitted on Thursday that he tried to persuade four teammates at a first-division club to fix games last season.
Groedig director Christian Haas said the attempts by player Dominique Taboga failed and no match involving the club has been manipulated.
“Dominique Taboga has confirmed he talked about it with four players,” Haas said. “That’s why we were forced into terminating his contract. All players confirmed to me that they haven’t been manipulating in any way. I am proud of that.”
Haas said Groedig and Taboga parted ways by mutual consent after the defender’s confession on Thursday, a day after Taboga told state prosecutors in Salzburg that Kuljic had talked him into fixing matches to settle a personal debt.
Prosecutors said Kuljic was arrested on Tuesday after Taboga filed charges, claiming he was forced to pay Kuljic nearly 30,000 euros ($40,200) and was threatened by the former Austria international after refusing to prevent Groedig from winning matches.
“The team is in a shock,” Haas said. “Dominique Taboga was definitely one of our leading players. This is not an easy situation for us.”
Prosecutors said Kuljic has denied the alleged attempt at match-fixing, adding that Taboga owed him money from the time they both played at Kapfenberg in the first half of 2012. Prosecutors were investigating the cause and extent of Taboga’s debt.
A retired striker who played 20 matches for Austria from 2005-07, Kuljic was arrested in a parking lot in Anif near Salzburg while waiting for Taboga, expecting the Groedig defender to hand over 3,000 euros ($4,020). Taboga had warned the police the evening before.
The Austrian league said it “completely condemns this attempt of fixing matches.”
“We have to fight this with all our strengths,” Bundesliga President Hans Rinner said. “If clubs manage to prevent their players from getting involved in this criminal kind of foul play, that’s a first and important step forward.”