TSV 1860 Munich’s Croatian striker Ivica Olić has been fined €20,000, and suspended for two Bundesliga 2 matches by the Deutsche Fussball Bund (DFB) for placing bets on Bundesliga 2 matches.
This is the first time the DFB has suspended a player in Germany for violating the betting regulations in the so-called DFB-Musterarbeitsvertrag—a pre-regulated player contract that is used by first and second division clubs in Germany.
Hans E. Lorenz from the DFB court of arbitrations told kicker.de: “The DFB has made it illegal for all players playing professional football in Germany to place bets on any football matches that are regulated by the DFB. This is in the best interest of the players, as this ensures that there can’t be suspicions about players manipulating results”
The bets were placed between August 26 and September 11, and included bets on nine Bundesliga 2 matches. The DFB further stated that most bets were below €1000, and that the player did not place bets on matches of his own club.
In an official statement on TSV 1860 Munich’s homepage Ivica Olić apologized for what he deems “a big mistake.” He further stated on the club homepage: “Me and my friends ran several combination bets via my credit card. Those bets included games of the second division, but not for big sums, and it was just for fun. I am sorry about this. When I placed the bets I was not aware that I was making a mistake.”
1860 has announced that Olić will receive a further fine from the club. 1860’s sporting director Thomas Eichin told the press “Ivica has been open about his mistake. But at the same time his actions have damaged the club. We can’t accept his actions despite the fact that Ivica has admitted to his mistake. Hence, Ivica can expect another fine from the club.”
In general football players playing in Germany are allowed to place bets on football matches, as long as they do not involve games from their own clubs, or games of competitions in which their clubs are involved. The ban on betting in Germany not only involves players but also includes all club and league employees.
This clause was included in the DFB-Mustervertrag following a €2 million match fixing scandal in 2005—known as the Hoyzer-Scandal in Germany. In 2004-05 Bundesliga 2 referee Robert Hoyzer was found guilty of having manipulated several matches in Germany’s second division, as well as the DFB-Cup.
The scandal involved several other referees, and had its roots in a Berlin-based Croatian gambling syndicate, which was run by Milan and Philip Šapina from their Café King. The brothers also had connections to several Hertha Berlin players, but a direct link between the club and match fixing could never be proven.
Both brothers and Robert Hoyzer were convicted of match fixing in 2006, and would later serve jail time.
The scandal deeply affected German football, and led to the installation of several mechanisms to detect game manipulation, as well as the involvement of players placing bets on games. The DFB also works closely with UEFA to uncover game manipulation, and it now appears that it was UEFA that raised the flag in the Ivica Olić case.
The Olić case now highlights that the mechanism to detect bets placed by players is working. On the other hand it remains to be seen whether this will damage the club’s and the player’s reputation, as the memory of the Hoyzer-Scandal is still fresh in Germany football.