Scan­dal that rocked ger­many

MARK GOD­FREY says the on­go­ing de­bate about match-fix­ing in Eng­land should re­mem­ber the Sev­en­ties

Late Tackle Football Magazine - - History -

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The great and the good as­sem­bled on an oth­er­wise un­re­mark­able Sun­day af­ter­noon, the sea­son barely over and done with; ri­val­ries put aside for the sum­mer. They ex­pected to hear ‘Happy Birth­day’ but got some­thing a lot more shock­ing to ac­com­pany their cof­fee and cakes.

June 6th, 1971; the day af­ter the fi­nal game of the eighth Bun­desliga cam­paign and some­where in the heart of Hessen, a 50th birth­day gar­den party took an un­ex­pected and sin­is­ter twist. Green­gro­cer and Kick­ers Of­fen­bach pres­i­dent, Horst-Gre­go­rio Canel­las, as­sem­bled a guest list of celebri­ties, re­porters and Fuss­ball lu­mi­nar­ies in­clud­ing the Ger­man na­tional coach, Hel­mut Schön, to hear his rev­e­la­tions.

For the pre­vi­ous two months, Canel­las had sus­pected that all wasn’t as it seemed in Ger­many’s top flight. His Kick­ers side, who had beaten 1.FC Köln to be­come DFB Pokal win­ners and been pro­moted to the top di­vi­sion just 12 months ear­lier, had been rel­e­gated straight back to the Re­gion­al­liga by virtue of one soli­tary goal.

Yet, hav­ing en­joyed a rel­a­tively pro­duc­tive Spring pe­riod, record­ing four wins, four draws and four de­feats, they found them­selves un­able to pull away from the two rel­e­ga­tion places, mostly on ac­count of the form of the clubs who were also in dan­ger of the same predica­ment.

Far from it be­ing the prod­uct of an over­ac­tive imag­i­na­tion or sour grapes, Canel­las’ fears were proved to be well­founded, and now, as his party guests feasted on the torten und kuchen, his mo­ment had ar­rived. An au­dio tape was played to the stunned gath­er­ing. Phone calls, voices, pay­ments. Fraud. Fa­mous names were at the heart of the de­cep­tion. In May, 1971, Köln’s in­ter­na­tional goal­keeper, Man­fred Man­glitz, was recorded of­fer­ing to “let some things through” in a game against Of­fen­bach’s rel­e­ga­tion-threat­ened ri­vals, Rot-Weiss Essen, in re­turn for 25,000 Deutschmarks.

Canel­las’ cu­rios­ity at the scale of the cor­rup­tion got the bet­ter of him. He tried to en­snare more con­spir­a­tors on tape. Another Na­tionalelf player, Bernd Patzke, and his Hertha Ber­lin team mate, Tasso Wild, were se­cretly taped dis­cussing a 140,000 Deutschmarks bribe from Canel­las him­self to guar­an­tee a win over Ar­minia Biele­feld, who them­selves were fight­ing against the drop. Patzke con­fided that he had al­ready been of­fered 220,000 Marks to throw the same game by some­one rep­re­sent­ing Biele­feld.

Th­ese calls were just the tip of the ice- berg in what was the big­gest scan­dal ever to hit Ger­man foot­ball. On that in­cred­i­ble day at the house of the Kick­ers Of­fen­bach pres­i­dent, the whole sor­did af­fair was blown wide open. For weeks to fol­low there was only one story on the front and back of the Zeitun­gen, and by the end of the in­ves­ti­ga­tions, it was dis­cov­ered that 18 games which had di­rectly af­fected the rel­e­ga­tion bat­tle of the 1970/71 sea­son had been fixed in one way or another and that an in­cred­i­ble 1mil­lion Deutschmarks had changed hands in the process.

Canel­las him­self, far from be­ing de­clared a hero for ex­pos­ing the cheats, was banned from hav­ing any in­volve­ment in Ger­man foot­ball as a re­sult of his part in the af­fair – his crime was to pre­tend to of­fer and ac­cept bribes in or­der to col­lect ev­i­dence of the fraud – all with the co-op­er­a­tion of the DFB. He had ac­tu­ally re­signed his po­si­tion as Kick­ers’

Klaus Fis­cher scores in 1982 World Cup semi-fi­nal

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