Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Former Polish sports minister on trial on corruption charges

Seventeen people, including club officials and referees, were sentenced to up to four years in jail on Friday in the largest corruption trial in the history of Polish football.
A regional court sentenced the former president of the club Arka Gdynia, identified only as Jacek M. in line with Polish privacy laws, to four years in prison, and Ryszard F., considered the mastermind behind the operation, to 3 1/2 years. Both were convicted of belonging to "an organized criminal group" that rigged Arka Gdynia matches from 2003-05.

Three other club officials received two-year sentences. A fourth club representative, nine match referees, two match observers and one player received suspended sentences.

The trial comes amid an ongoing investigation, launched by Wroclaw prosecutors in 2005, into match-fixing in Polish football that has plagued the country's domestic leagues for years.

So far, prosecutors have charged almost 200 people -- including members of the Polish Football Federation, coaches, referees, players and club officials -- with fixing matches in the top domestic leagues.