Former Zenit player claims team bribed referees
Erik Hagen says players chipped in to secure outcome of Uefa Cup match
Erik Hagen (right) in action for Zenit St Petersburg against Bolton Wanderers in 2005. Photograph: Michael Steele/Getty Images
The 38-year old Norwegian footballer said that it was customary to pay for match-fixing and he and his teammates each paid a referee $3,000 (€2,175) to secure the outcome of a Uefa Cup match between 2005 and 2008. In return he said each of them received a $12,000 bonus (€8,699).
“I can’t remember which match it was ... I asked ‘what’s going on’ and they just said ‘You got to get used to this because that’s how it is’,” he told Norwegian daily VG.
Asked whether he had brought the issue to the attention of Uefa he said he would “tell them the same thing if they ring me”.
“Someone has to be the first to do this,” Hagen added. “There are lots of rumours about corruption in international football.”
A spokesman for the Russian team, Evgueny Gusev, denied the allegations.
“We are deeply astonished by the statement of Erik Hagen,” he told state news agency RIA Novosti. “Zenit has always followed and follows the principles of fair play and proves its worth only on the football field.”
Meanwhile, seven further players from Football League clubs based in the north-west of England have been arrested in connection with alleged spot-fixing, the National Crime Agency has revealed.
“In December 2013 the NCA arrested six men in connection with an investigation into individuals suspected of conspiracy to commit acts of bribery and money laundering relating to conduct during football matches. They were interviewed and bailed to return on April 8th pending further inquiries,” read a statement on the NCA’s website on Thursday afternoon.
“Officers from the NCA have been actively pursuing a number of lines of inquiry in this ongoing investigation. The NCA have today re-arrested the six original suspects based upon new evidence, along with a further seven footballers aged between 18 and 30 suspected of potential involvement in these offences.
“The seven men arrested in addition to the original six are from Football League clubs based in the North West of England. All 13 individuals are being interviewed at police stations across the country.
“The investigation began following receipt of material from the Sun on Sunday. It remains ongoing and we cannot provide further detail at this stage.”
Guardian and Agencies