Saturday, October 18, 2008

In sharp contrast to the Soviet case, the West German bribery scandal in 1971 was heavily investigated and publicized. It was a heavy blow: the Bundesliga was only 7 years old and already corrupt, and on top of it – it was German corruption, something ‘unthinkable’. By today’s ‘standards of corruption’, the affair is almost laughable – it started with the effort of the president of lowly club to avoid relegation. But it ended with interesting results: 9 out of 18 Bundesliga clubs were involved; two clubs were expelled; one was ruined; 53 players were suspended and fined, some among them national players; few functionaries were banished from football. Well, at least the punishment was in line with German strictness… Not quite. The President of Kickers (Offenbach) – Horst Gregorio Canellas – decided to save the club from relegation and organized intricate system of bribing players and fixing results, which gradually involved other clubs as well.

Horst Gregorio Canellas
It was not simply the usual mania of an organizer to keep his pet at the top no matter what: West Germany did not have second division yet and relegation meant going to regional leagues, where semi-professional and amateur clubs kicked the ball around in front of few bored geezers. Going down spelled bankruptcy for a professional club: high payroll and small gates were the deadly mix. More or less, Canellas was driven by fear – he wanted to save the club from financial disaster. Soon Arminia (Bielefeld) discovered something fishy – they were also candidates for relegation, and Kickers was aiming largely to stay in Bundesliga at Arminia’s expense. At the end – funnily enough – Arminia ended at the safe 14th place and Kickers – next to last, 17th in the final table. So Arminia bribed and fixed better. Hertha (West Berlin), Eintracht (Braunschweig), Schalke 04(Gelzenkirchen), MSV Duisburg, FC Koln, VfB Stuttgart, and Rot Weiss (Oberhausen) gradually got involved in the scheme. Some were involved on high level, but others were not – only players were bribed from outside. During the investigation, strange things were uncovered: for instance, Hertha was heavily in debt and near bankruptcy. The club welcomed bribes in hope, or at least the players did. On the other hand, many players were incomprehensibly greedy, since they played for strong clubs. It was also a very mixed bunch: from stars to lowly nobodies, but almost entirely Germans. Only two Hungarian refugees were foreign culprits. More or less, the as most evidence were considered the actions of two players: the goal Bernd Patzke (Hertha) scored in his own net, thus fixing the result in favour of Armininia againt Hertha.
Patzke scores in his own net, looking innocent. Suspension? What suspension? South Africa is just a plain ticket away. The other was the goalkeeper Manfred Manglitz (FC Koln), who received money for allowing goals against Rot Weiss (Essen) and Kickers (Offenbach).

Manglitz can’t stop the ball… kind of. His career ended here. So penalties followed: Arminia and Kickers were expelled from the Bundesliga. It hardly mattered to Kickers, relegated anyway. Hardly any grief, though: these two clubs never made any strong contribution to the league. Six functionaries were suspended and fined – from those Canellas was the only one more or less banished from football. The rest of the punishment went to various players.