Scandal that rocked germany
MARK GODFREY says the ongoing debate about match-fixing in England should remember the Seventies
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’
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