German Soccer Referee Admits to Fixing Games for Money Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

German soccer referee Robert Hoyzer admitted to fixing games by making unnecessary or questionable calls, affecting the outcome of many matches. He also admitted to fixing games during the prestigious German Cup. However, he cooperated with police, leading to the arrests of other referees as well as players. The scandal led German soccer officials to change how referees are promoted and led to heightened monitoring of gambling within the sport.

Summary of Event

Soccer is a beloved sport in Germany and a source of great national pride, passionately followed by millions of fans. It is the nation’s only major professional sport and is played by almost all school children. Indeed, soccer is the world’s most popular sport, so popular that the Germans were able to use their love for the sport to win the good graces of world opinion after the savagery of World War II. [kw]Soccer Referee Admits to Fixing Games for Money, German (Jan. 27, 2005) Bundesliga scandal of 2005 Soccer;game fixing Hoyzer, Robert Sapina, Ante Bundesliga scandal of 2005 Soccer;game fixing Hoyzer, Robert Sapina, Ante [g]Europe;Jan. 27, 2005: German Soccer Referee Admits to Fixing Games for Money[03470] [g]Germany;Jan. 27, 2005: German Soccer Referee Admits to Fixing Games for Money[03470] [c]Corruption;Jan. 27, 2005: German Soccer Referee Admits to Fixing Games for Money[03470] [c]Gambling;Jan. 27, 2005: German Soccer Referee Admits to Fixing Games for Money[03470] [c]Organized crime and racketeering;Jan. 27, 2005: German Soccer Referee Admits to Fixing Games for Money[03470] [c]Sports;Jan. 27, 2005: German Soccer Referee Admits to Fixing Games for Money[03470]

Organized soccer in Germany dates back to 1900 with the creation of the German soccer federation, the Deutscher Fussball-Bund, or DFB. The German professional soccer league, called the Bundesliga and distinguished from the federation, was established under the authority of the DFB in 1962 as a sixteen-team West German professional league. It was the hope of organizers that the Bundesliga would enhance Germany’s professional competitiveness, especially in forming World World Cup Cup teams. The league more than succeeded in that goal and was credited with helping form a West German team that became the runner-up in the 1966 World Cup.

The professionalization of German soccer also attracted an influx of money. In 1971, several players were caught in a Bribery;soccer players bribery scandal. The affair, known as the Bundesliga scandal of 1971, was considered a national disgrace, which Germany hoped would never be repeated. Since 1974, the Bundesliga has been ranked into a first and second division comprising professional teams from different German cities. The soccer clubs compete against each other in the annual German Cup tournament.

The apex of international soccer is the World World Cup Cup tournament sponsored by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), a tournament of national soccer teams from around the globe. The FIFA World Cup is held in a different host country every four years. In 2004, Germans were looking forward to hosting the 2006 World Cup, but that excitement was complicated by an unexpected and scandalous turn of events.

Soccer referee Robert Hoyzer was questioned about his impartiality in refereeing a game in the first round of the 2004 German Cup. In the game between Paderborn and Hamburger SV on August 21, Hoyzer appeared to be favoring Paderborn with his calls. With Hamburg leading 2-0, he called several questionable penalties against Hamburg. Two calls resulted in goals for Paderborn and one expelled a Hamburg player for “insulting” behavior. Paderborn came back to win the game 4-2 and Hamburg was eliminated from the German Cup.

Four other German referees met with the DFB to discuss Hoyzer’s calls during the August 21 game. Around the same time, a state-run betting company had detected unusual betting patterns in games Hoyzer officiated. One Berlin gambler had won big on an underdog team. The DFB president announced the finding of evidence that Hoyzer had rigged games, leading German prosecutors to launch their own investigation. They found that Hoyzer had fixed twenty-three soccer games from April to December, 2004.

Hoyzer’s youth was filled with soccer. His father was a respected referee in the German soccer leagues, and the young Hoyzer had a brief career as a player. When that ended he became a referee for the DFB in 2001. Handsome, confident, and well-dressed, he also was a popular official. Over the next few years, he rose steadily in the ranks of German referees. By 2004, he had advanced to refereeing in the second division of the Bundesliga.

Hoyzer at first denied the allegations made against him by the DFB. He told the Bild newspaper that he had never bet on a game he refereed and that he was hurt that his refereeing colleagues could think him capable of such behavior. Faced with mounting adverse evidence, however, he confessed on January 27, 2005, that he was involved with a Croatian betting syndicate based in Berlin. He admitted to fixing seven games for $108,350. He was arrested in February and suspended from the league.

On April 29, the DFB banned Hoyzer from the sport for life. Hoyzer also began cooperating with police in establishing the guilt of other referees. He implicated referee Dominik Marks and player Steffen Karl. On March 11, Karl admitted bribing other players and was arrested. Marks was accused of earning about thirty-five thousand euros by manipulating games he was refereeing.

Hoyzer also told police about his connections to the major betting syndicate in Berlin. He said he had met Ante Sapina at Berlin’s Café King sports bar, owned by Ante’s brother, Milan Sapina. Ante was a shrewd gambler on German soccer, but after meeting Hoyzer, he saw an opportunity to improve his odds. He paid Hoyzer sixty-seven thousand euros and gave him a new television set to rig the games he refereed. In one game in October, Hoyzer manipulated a 1-0 victory by penalizing one team and expelling one of its players. The Sapina brothers, along with several soccer players, were arrested.

The trial of Hoyzer, the Sapina brothers, Marks, and Karl began in October. Hoyzer was charged with eleven counts of fraud. Ante Sapina was charged with forty-two counts. Given that Hoyzer had been cooperating with law enforcement in the investigation, his testimony was not surprising. He admitted to betting on soccer on a small scale until he met Ante, whom, he said, corrupted him. Ante also admitted guilt.

Investigators found that the Sapina brothers made more than two million euros by betting on rigged games. The testimonies of Hoyzer and Sapina differed at points, with the trial revealing that the Sapina brothers cleverly enticed Hoyzer into cheating with a seductive array of bribes. Prosecutors recommended that Hoyzer receive only a two-year suspended sentence, given his confession and his cooperation with their investigation. The judge in the case rejected their recommendation. In a major surprise, on November 21, the judge sentenced Hoyzer to twenty-nine months in prison. Hoyzer’s crimes were well-considered, the judge explained, and Hoyzer had violated his duty of neutrality.

Ante Sapina was convicted of fraud and sentenced to thirty-five months in prison. His brothers were given suspended sentences of sixteen and twelve months, respectively. Marks was given an eighteen-month suspended sentence. The sentences of Hoyzer and the other defendants were affirmed on appeal by Germany’s highest court. The chief appellate judge condemned the defendants for undermining confidence in Germany’s national sport. After the trial and sentencing, German authorities announced that they would continue to investigate other players and referees. The league also ordered that most of the rigged games officiated by Hoyzer and the other implicated referees be replayed.


The Hoyzer scandal impacted German soccer in several ways. First, referees felt their authority and credibility had been undermined. The press began reporting that referees were making calls under a cloud of suspicion, which led to numerous refereeing mistakes. The DFB implemented new rules for referees. They are now required to serve a three-year probationary period in the lower leagues before being eligible for promotion to the higher leagues. The DFB also began using an observer to monitor all calls in games of the German Cup.

Second, the scandal impacted the betting industry in Germany. Betting is a huge business in German soccer, as it is in almost all professional sports. It is estimated that in 2004, betting on soccer amounted to 1.2 billion euros. The Hoyzer scandal made it especially clear that corruption is a part of betting, especially when large amounts of money come into play. Although gambling is unlikely to be eliminated from professional sports, the scandal nevertheless led the FIFA and DFB to initiate stricter controls against gambling on soccer. FIFA decided to monitor betting at all World World Cup Cup tournaments, beginning with the 2006 finals in Germany.

Third, the Hoyzer scandal threatened the atmosphere of the FIFA World Cup tournament scheduled to be played in Germany in the summer of 2006. Fortunately for German soccer, its legendary former soccer star, Franz Beckenbauer, had assumed the role of president of the World Cup organizing committee. Beckenbauer was the epitome of professional integrity and success in competitive soccer. With the conclusion of the Hoyzer prosecution and Beckenbauer’s adroit management, the 2006 World Cup tournament was a great success. Bundesliga scandal of 2005 Soccer;game fixing Hoyzer, Robert Sapina, Ante

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Brenner, Reuven, Gabrielle A. Brenner, and Aaron Brown. A World of Chance: Betting on Religion, Games, Wall Street. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2008. In this wide-ranging academic study of betting in human society, the authors contend that with widespread gambling in sports, the corruption of referees such as Hoyzer becomes inevitable.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Goldblatt, David. The Ball Is Round: A Global History of Soccer. New York: Riverhead Books, 2008. Comprehensive and readable history of soccer from its earliest days in the context of cultural and international developments. Impressive scope of research.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Hunt, Chris, ed. The Complete Book of Soccer. Buffalo, N.Y.: Firefly Books, 2006. A history of soccer that features biographies of great players and more than five hundred photographs. The Hoyzer scandal figures prominently in the time line of soccer scandals.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Trecker, Jamie. Love and Blood: At the World Cup with the Footballers, Fans, and Freaks. Orlando, Fla.: Harcourt, 2007. An account of fan passion at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Argues that the impassioned politics of fandom masked the significance of the Hoyzer scandal.

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Categories: History