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Feb 5, 2013

Debrecen confirm match-fixing probe

Hungarian club Debrecen have confirmed that their Champions League match against Liverpool in 2009 was part of a match-fixing investigation.

Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet stated on Monday evening that sources within Europol had confirmed to them that Debrecen were under investigation for their 1-0 loss at Anfield in a group stage match.

It is said goalkeeper Vukasin Poleksic was approached to let in at least three goals in order to trigger an 'over 2.5 goals' bet, but on the night Dirk Kuyt's strike was all that separated the teams.

Further to the report, Poleksic received a two-year ban from UEFA for failing to report a match-fixing approach later in the group stage when the Hungarians went down 4-3 to Fiorentina. The Daily Telegraph newspaper claims German police have already established that match was subject to match-fixing from a Croatian-led crime syndicate.

However, the charge only specified Fiorentina and Liverpool say they have never been notified by any organisation that the match at Anfield was under investigation. Indeed, there has never been any suspicion of wrongdoing by anyone at Liverpool, who won the match in question 1-0.

In an interview with the Daily Mail, Poleksic also distanced himself from the reports, claiming replays fail to prove that he performed uncharacteristically during the match.

"Anyone who watched the match would know that what people are saying is bull," Poleksic told Sportsmail. "We lost 1-0 at Liverpool and I played a good game. I made lots of saves: a one-on-one against Albert Riera, one from Fernando Torres, one from Steven Gerrard. I remember it all. How can anyone say I threw the game?

"The match did not seem at all odd that night. There was nothing. I was just delighted to be playing at Anfield. It was a great night for me and my club and we played well."

A statement on Debrecen's website said: "The [UEFA] disciplinary committee's position was that Vukasin Poleksic neglected his obligations when he didn't report in time that, before two international matches of DVSC, unknown persons attempted to persuade him to influence the outcome of the matches.

"The two matches were the away game against Liverpool and the home encounter with Fiorentina. Neither DVSC nor the player wish to react further, all the more so as all the information has been released about this affair during the summer of 2010.''

A Liverpool spokesman told the Press Association: "We have had no contact from Europol or any other organisation over this.''

Meanwhile, Professional Footballers' Association chief executive Gordon Taylor said players at all 92 league clubs were warned earlier this season to blow the whistle if they are approached about illegal betting or match-fixing.

Advisers from the PFA visited every club and the dangers of becoming involved in such activities were spelled out clearly.

PFA boss Taylor said the issue of match-fixing was "very high on our agenda''.

He said: "At the beginning of the season we had a team going out to all the clubs telling the players there should be no betting on any competition they have any association with, and that any approaches should be reported to the authorities.

"We have had some problems with one or two games in the recent past where players at Accrington Stanley and Bury were charged and sanctioned so although it is not commonplace in our country we are not complacent or naive. We need to be vigilant at all levels of the game.''

Information from the Press Association was used in this report