Swedish top-flight football game postponed after fixing attempt

0
66

Stockholm (AFP) – Thursday’s top-flight clash between Swedish giants Gothenburg and AIK was postponed after at least one player was threatened and told to fix the result.

There have been several similar incidents in Swedish football in the past but none involving the first division.

“This is a very serious attack against Swedish football and we will never, never accept this,” Hakan Sjostrand, secretary general of the Swedish Football Federation, said in a statement. 

“Based on the information we’ve received, we cannot guarantee that the IFK Gothenburg and AIK game is a safe match.”

Stockholm-based AIK informed the federation that a player had been approached and threatened and the police were called in.

The player was offered “a large sum of money” in exchange for trying to ensure that AIK lost, the federation said.

“With veiled threats the fixer demanded that the player perform badly during the match against IFK Gothenburg,” the federation said in a statement.

IFK Gothenburg’s sports chief Mats Green initially identified the player as AIK’s Greek-Canadian goalkeeper Kenny Stamatopoulos, Green told the daily Goteborgs-Posten.

But later, at a press conference, Green said he had spoken too hastily and that “several players” from AIK had been targeted, without specifying whether Stamatopoulos was one of them. 

Swedish police and both clubs are releasing few details.

“In the interest of the investigation we want this to be covered by secrecy as long as possible,” police commissioner Fredrik Gardare said.

AIK said it would not make its players available to the press until further notice. 

“The questions will have to come through me,” sports director Bjorn Wesstrom said, praising the “immense righteousness” and “courage” of his players for not being intimidated.

The two teams, along with the Swedish association, are expected to agree on a new date for the match. 

IFK Gothenburg are Sweden’s second-most successful club and the only one to have won a European title (the UEFA Cup in 1982 and 1987).

However, the club has had a difficult start to this season and are 11th in the championship after eight games. AIK are sixth. 

Several match-fixing allegations have emerged in recent years in Sweden, with investigations not always resulting in a conclusion. 

In 2015, the Crime Prevention Council (Bra) reported 20 complaints about similar incidents in two years. 

The only conviction to date was when a Serbian player in the Swedish second division was given a suspended jail sentence and fined over attempts to bribe three opponents to play badly before a match in 2015. 

    <figure><figcaption>Several alleged match-fixing scandals have emerged in recent years in Sweden
        <span>Copyright AFP/File Odd Andersen</span>
      </figcaption></figure>