Russian sports minister rejects UEFA match-fix claim

October 2nd, 2008 - 10:04 pm ICT by IANS  

Bayern MunichMoscow/Madrid, Oct 2 (DPA) Russia’s Sports Minister Vitaly Mutko has rejected claims of possible match-fixing at last season’s UEFA Cup semi-final involving Zenit St. Petersburg and Bayern Munich.”Do you think that such world and European champions like (Bayern players) Kahn, Klose, Ze Roberto and Lucio can be bought?” Mutko was quoted as saying Thursday by Interfax news agency.

He said both clubs should if necessary take joint legal action against Spanish press reports.

In a statement Wednesday, a Zenit club spokesman said: “Anyone who saw the games knows that it was an honest and uncompromising tie.”

“At the moment, lawyers are checking the articles in the Spanish press. Afterwards, we will decide whether legal action is necessary to protect our good name.”

It followed reports by El Pais and ABC newspapers that Spanish judicial authorities were investigating the possibility that the semi-final tie could have been rigged.

The newspapers reported that a suspected Russian criminal boss, arrested earlier this year in Spain, had boasted in a tapped telephone conversation that Zenit’s semi-final success had been bought “for 50 million.” No currency was mentioned.

Zenit beat Bayern 5-1 on aggregate, including a 4-0 second-leg victory at home on May 1, before going on to win the UEFA Cup final against Glasgow Rangers.

Spain’s National Court clarified Thursday that it had not confirmed the Spanish press reports of an investigation into the UEFA Cup semi-final tie.

The court has merely confirmed that an investigative judge, Baltasar Garzon, is investigating a group of suspected Russian crime bosses who were arrested in Spain in June, a spokeswoman said.

She could not say whether the UEFA Cup semi-final was a part of the investigation.

Bayern Munich media director Markus Hoerwick said: “We will examine the reports and then decide whether or not it be necessary to take action against them.”

A club statement Wednesday had said the club knew nothing of the claims.

“Bayern Munich knows as little about this suspicion as the Munich prosecutors,” it said.

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