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By ESPN Staff

Israeli police question players over match-fixing

JERUSALEM, Dec 16 (Reuters) - The Israeli FA postponed a second division game set for Saturday for fear of match fixing after three players said they had received payment to fix its result.

The players, all of second division side Hapoel Beer Sheva, appeared in court for a remand hearing on Saturday and were ordered to be detained for three more days while the police investigation continues.

Beer Sheva club officials invited police to investigate after some players alerted club coach Gil Landau that they had been approached and offered large sums to throw the match.

The cancellation of the match between Beer Sheva and Hapoel Ra'anana came ahead of an expected bumper pools payout with a record first prize of 40 million shekels ($9.6 million) but this was automatically reduced to 10 million shekels because 15 and not 16 valid matches appeared on the form.

'I ordered the cancellation of the match after I received word from police investigators that they had evidence and after... three players had admitted involvement (in receiving money),' Israeli FA chairman Iche Menahem told Israeli television.

Media reports said that the entire Beer Sheva squad were questioned by police on Friday.

Match fixing cases are not uncommon in Israeli soccer, particularly in the lower divisions.

In the last case, a referee was jailed in October for three years after being found guilty of trying to fix results in four separate second and third division matches between 1997 and 2000.

The referee, Yohanan Cibutaru, was one of three soccer officials to be jailed in a case where charges have been brought against 13 men. Some trials are still ongoing.