Monday, October 20, 2008

Given the severity of illegal activities, one expected corresponding punishments. Reality was suspiciously different: the media attention focused on Manfred Manglitz, Bernd Patzke, and Tasso Wild (Hertha).
Left to right: Wild, Patzke, and Manglitz, going to the hearing. The media focused on them.
But one of the most involved was Jurgen Neumann (Arminia) – he was rarely mentioned by the media. These four players received the harshest suspencions: Manglitz for life, the other three – for 5 years. Only two of them served their punishment in full – Manglitz and Neumann. The other 49 players received decreasing terms of suspensions and fines, or only fines. Almost all initial suspensions were reduced. The penalties were strangely small, given the involvement: 16 players from Eintracht (Braunschwieg), 15 from Hertha (West Berlin), 13 from Schalke 04 (Gelzenkirchen), 3 from VfB Stuttgart, 2 from MSV Duisburg, 2 from Arminia, and 1 from FC Koln. Practically only the shortest suspensions were served – some of the culprits did not miss even a month of playing. The German Federation may have been na├»ve, expecting players to honour the penalties, which were valid only in West Germany. Well, they did not – Patzke moved to Durban City (South Africa), where he finished his career. Zoltan Varga (Hertha) went to Aberdeen (Scotland) until his suspension ended, and returned to Hertha a year later. Reinhard Libuda (Schalke 04) went to play for Strasbourg (France).

But who was involved? Well, a very mixed bag. If Neumann was little known player, others were high profile players – Manglitz participated in the World Cup Finals 1970. Patzke was part of two World Cups – 1966 and 1970. Zoltan Varga was Olympic champion in 1964 with Hungary, and won the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup (which became the UEFA Cup) in 1965 with Ferencvaros (Budapest). Reinhard ‘Stan’ Libuda was a star of the West German team at the World Cup 1970. His teammate in Schalke 04 Klaus Fichtel was considered the rival of none other than Franz Beckenbauer. The goalkeeper of Eintracht (Braunschweig) Horst Wolter was also occasionally selected in the national team. These were established stars. Others were solid professionals or young players which became famous in later years: Volker Danner (MSV Duisburg), Wolfgang Gayer (Hertha), Dieter Burdenski (Schalke 04) became national players. Rolf Russmann (Schalke 04) was part of the World Cup winning team in 1974 and played in the World Cup 1978. His teammate Klaus Fischer also played in the World Cup 1978, and if his career did not coincide in time with the great Gerd Muller, Fischer would have played much more for West Germany. Klaus Fichtel, also a Schalke 04 player, was a World Champion in 1974 too. The two foreigners had different fate: Varga (who is interesting in two other subjects – foreign players in Great Britain and East Europeans playing in the West) played not only for Hertha and Aberdeen, but eventually moved to Borussia (Dortmund) and Ajax (Amsterdam), where he ended his career. The other Hungarian, Laszlo Gergeli (Hertha), was a nobody and his suspension for one year effectively finished his career.
Lazslo Gergeli still a Hertha player. Game over for him, though.
Zoltan Varga will be Hertha player again. Suspended in West Germany, he left long lasting fond memories in the hearts of Aberdeen fans. Who really suffered then? The penalties looked like a joke, or affected insignificant clubs and players. Those who disappeared from the football scene – Manglitz, Neumann, Gergeli – were old and near their careers anyway. Well, there were sufferers – although, unexpected ones. Schalke 04 was practically destroyed. In the beginning of the 1970s the club was quickly becoming potential rival of Bayern and Borussia (Moenchengladbach). It was exciting team and bright future was forecasted. The scandal and the suspensions of 13 players was practically the end: the club quickly sunk and eventually was relegated. Financial troubles rocked it too. Yet, Schalke 04 was rather minor participant in the result fixing scandal. From the players, Schalke 04 and West German star Stan Libuda probably suffered most – nobody forgave him and his reputation was ruined. His profile was the highest among all involved; he was much loved footballer… involvement in the scandal and defiance of the imposed penalty destroyed him: he never played again in West Germany, and after one year in France he had to quit football. In a sharp contrast, Hertha (West Berlin) seemingly prospered from the scandal – they avoided bankruptcy by selling their stadium ‘Plumpe’, remained in the Bundesliga and played their best football in the years immediately following 1971. The bribing scandal ended suspiciously – with more then a hint of glossing over and cover up.
Libuda in happier days: outsmarting the Bulgarian defender Milko Gaidarski at the World Cup 1970. West Germany won 5-2.
Schalke 04: the team of big promise in 1971 never recovered from the scandal. Standing, left to right: Becker, Fichtel, Pohlschmidt, van Haaren, Russmann, Scheer, Galbierz, Wittkamp, Cendic (assistant coach)Middle: Rausch, Sobieray, Gutendorf (coach), Vanderberg, Senger, Pirkner, Libuda, Lichtenfeld (trainer)Sitting: Fischer, Kuzmirz, Beverungen, Burdenski, Nigbur, Pfeiffer, Hausmann, Lutkebohmert, Wust