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May 29, 2014

Ex-Bundesliga pro admits match-fixing

Thomas Cichon retired from professional football in 2011.
Thomas Cichon retired from professional football in 2011.

A former Bundesliga professional has admitted deliberately underperforming during a game in a match-fixing trial at a Bochum court.

Thomas Cichon, who has been charged with accessory to fraud, supporting a criminal organisation and tax evasion, had agreed to play a 2. Bundesliga match in 2009 without "full strength and concentration," his lawyer said.

Der Spiegel reports that Cichon, who has been banned by the DFB until 2015, could face an 11-month suspended sentence.

Former Germany under-21 defender Cichon, now retired, had become a key player for Osnabrueck after joining in 2006 and helped the club to promotion in his first season from the third tier. However, his lawyer confirmed that on April 17, 2009 -- when the club's relegation from the second division was already certain -- he had not shown "full commitment" during a 3-0 defeat to Augsburg.

In a statement read out by his lawyer, Cichon said: "I was told to take part in the match-fixing. I was ready to do so. We had to lose."

Cichon informed the court he had owed a substantial amount of money through gambling but his bookmaker, who is alleged to have pressured him into the match-fixing to assist with the repayments, reduced the debt by 20,000 euros following the incident.

The 37-year-old said he had first made contact with the crime syndicate organising the betting in late 2008 and had turned down initial efforts to persuade him to fix matches. However, he said he relented in April the following year after his debts accumulated.

He denied claims he had helped to fix a second fixture.

Cichon left Osnabrueck at the end of the 2008-09 season to join South African side Moroka Swallows and retired in 2011. He is currently coaching a youth team in his hometown of Essen.

The court case is due to resume on June 11.

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