Ex-Leverkusen official probed over alleged match-fixing
DUESSELDORF, Germany, Mar 27 (Reuters) Prosecutors in Cologne began questioning a former Bayer Leverkusen managing director today as part of an investigation into the alleged fixing of top-flight matches involving the Bundesliga club.
Reiner Calmund, 57, who stepped down from the club in mid-2004, is suspected of making cash payments to fix three Bundesliga matches in the 2002-2003 season to help Leverkusen avoid relegation to the second division.
He denies involvement. His lawyer told German TV at the weekend there had been no match-fixing and Calmund was unaware of any by third parties in connection with the club.
Calmund was quoted as saying in today's edition of Bild newspaper he was pleased about the prospect of being questioned and that it would be like a ''clearance'' in soccer terminology.
''It's making me nervous as it's the first time I will have been in court as the accused,'' he told the paper. ''I will clear up everything with the prosecutors' office.'' Authorities are trying to determine what happened to 698,500 dollar of the club's money that Calmund has said was for options on buying players, Cologne prosecutor Guenther Feld said in an interview with German TV broadcaster N24 today.
''Part of a written statement that was sent to us (by Bayer Leverkusen) revealed that the whereabouts of this 580,000 euros could possibly be explained by match-fixing,'' Feld said.
Reports in the German media at the weekend said the Leverkusen matches under suspicion were home victories against Arminia Bielefeld and 1860 Munich and an away win against Nuremberg.
An unidentified players' agent was also being investigated in connection with the case, Feld said at the weekend.
A spokesman for the German soccer association (DFB) said on Monday the organisation would wait for Calmund's questioning to end before making a statement. A spokeswoman for Leverkusen declined comment.
REUTERS AY KN1844