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Match fixing trial begins in Graz

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Match fixing trial begins in Graz
Dominique Taboga. Photo: Steindy/Wikimedia
13:12 CEST+02:00
The trial against former Austrian footballers Dominique Taboga, Sanel Kuljic, Thomas Zündel and seven other people who are charged over allegations of match-fixing started on Friday in Graz.

Judge Elisabeth Juschitz has scheduled the trial for ten days.

The ten men are accused of serious commercial fraud, blackmail, coercion and organisation of a criminal community.  

From 2004 to 2013 they manipulated at least 18 football games, according to the prosecutors.

The players allegedly received between €7,000 ($9,375) and €25,000 ($33,485) per match to influence the outcome of the games, enabling their backers from Austria, Albania, Serbia and Chechnya to earn profits from placing bets on the outcome of the matches.

Taboga used to play for Salzburg-based club SV Grödig before they sacked him in November 2013 after he admitted he had asked four other players to fix a match in the previous season.

The case first hit the headlines when Taboga initially told the club that he had been forced to make a video confessing to match fixing, and was then blackmailed for over €87,000 and held at gunpoint by a criminal mafia-style gang because he had refused to be an accomplice to fixing a football match.

This led to the arrest of the alleged blackmailers, one of whom was his alleged co-conspirator Kuljic, who scored three goals in 20 appearances for Austria and who had played alongside Taboga in 2012 in the Kapfenberg club until he retired.

It later emerged, however, that Taboga had lied about how much he had already paid the blackmailers, which was €60,000 euros less than he had previously told police.

He also retracted his statement about being held at gunpoint, fueling confusion over Taboga's true role in the scandal.

In February Taboga was given a life-time ban by the Austrian Football Federation, which was later extended worldwide by a meeting of FIFA in Brazil.  Zündel was banned for a period of one year.

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