Leverkusen ex-official denies any Bundeliga match-fixing
BERLIN, Mar 26 (Reuters) A former managing director of German Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen has denied any fixing of top-flight matches involving the club.
''There is no match-fixing,'' a lawyer for Reiner Calmund, who held his post with Leverkusen until mid-2004, told German television late yesterday.
''Herr Calmund is also unaware of any match-fixing by third parties in connection with Bayer 04 (Leverkusen),'' the lawyer, Stefan Seitz, said on broadcaster ZDF.
Seitz was responding to media reports that Cologne prosecutors were investigating whether payments were made to fix three Bundesliga matches in the 2002-2003 season to help Leverkusen avoid relegation to the second division.
Guenther Feld, a Cologne state prosecutor, told ZDF on Saturday authorities had written evidence that ''in 2003 first division matches involving Bayer Leverkusen -- one match or several matches -- may have been fixed.'' German soccer has been dogged by scandal as it gears up to host the World Cup finals. Earlier this month, four people were arrested as part of an investigation into alleged match-rigging in the second division and regional league.
At the end of last year, a referee was handed a jail sentence after admitting fixing several top-level games in return for payment from a Croatian betting ring.
The Sueddeutsche Zeitung reported on Saturday the Leverkusen matches under investigation were home victories against Arminia Bielefeld and 1860 Munich and an away win against Nuremberg.
SEPARATE REPORT In a separate report, weekly magazine Der Spiegel quoted a 12-page statement made to Cologne prosecutors by a Leverkusen lawyer as saying that Calmund had spoken about match-fixing in front of top officials from the club.
An unidentified players' agent allegedly received a payment (694,300 dollar) as part of a match-fixing scheme,the magazine quoted the statement as saying. Some 500,000 euros had been paid to 1860 Munich players to fix a match against Leverkusen in the 2002-2003 season, Der Spiegel said.
Calmund's lawyer Seitz told ZDF: ''The 580,000 euros definitely have nothing to do with match-fixing.'' He did not say what the money had been used for.
Cologne prosecutor Feld confirmed to Reuters on Sunday that Calmund was under investigation.
''We have evidence to be taken seriously that the 580,000 euros were not used as an option for player purchases as Herr Calmund said but for bribing players.'' Calmund would shortly be questioned in connection with the case and an unidentified players' agent was also being investigated, Feld added.
''We are assuming that our players were not manipulated and also did not receive any cash,'' Detlef Romeiko, managing director of 1860 Munich, was quoted as saying in Der Spiegel.
Separately, Focus magazine reported on Saturday that Munich prosecutors were investigating three people for suspected betting fraud involving the fixing of three first division matches in the current Bundesliga season.
The matches cited all involved Nuremberg and included away fixtures against Wolfsburg and Werder Bremen and a home game versus Arminia Bielefeld, Focus said.
Christoph Schickhart, a lawyer for Nuremberg, said on ZDF: ''Nuremberg has nothing to do with all these things, nor with the rumours.'' The Munich prosecutors office confirmed to Reuters on Saturday that several properties in Munich and Nuremberg had been searched as part of an investigation into betting firms.
Soccer players had not been involved in the investigation, the office added.