FRANKFURT – The international gang suspected in Europe's biggest soccer match-fixing scandal supplied sedatives to team doctors and hotel cooks to drug players in matches to be manipulated, a lawyer for one of the arrested suspects said Friday.
Prosecutors believe the gang did not shy away from "locking up people in basements" or "sedating players," lawyer Burkhard Benecken said.
"According to prosecutors, they were extremely violent," he said.
The doctor of a Slovenian team was given sedatives to use on his own players, and the chefs in luxury hotels were given drugs to disable players, Benecken said.
"Whether it actually happened is not known," he added.
Benecken represents one of 15 people arrested in Germany and says he has seen the files of Bochum prosecutors leading the investigation in what soccer officials say is the biggest match-fixing scandal to hit Europe, with 200 games suspected of being fixed to benefit the gang of bettors. The games include some qualifying matches in the Champions League, the continent's top club competition.
Prosecutors say the gang is suspected of bribing players, coaches, referees and other officials to manipulate games so that it could make money by betting on the fixed games. About 200 people are suspected of being involved and the ring leaders are believed to have made at least $15 million.
The prosecutor's office in Bochum, which specializes in fighting organized crime, has declined to give details about its ongoing investigation besides saying that 15 people have been arrested in Germany and two in Switzerland.
Benecken's client, identified only as Deniz C., is accused of kidnapping and fraud and is suspected of making nearly $1.5 million in bets on manipulated games.
"He is supposed to have kidnapped somebody and held him for three days," the lawyer said.
The betting network had a global presence and was active in several Asian countries, with a middleman based in Rotterdam, Netherlands, Benecken said, citing prosecutors' files.
The prosecutors have not identified any of the suspects.
Theo van Seggelen, secretary general of FIFPro, the international umbrella group of players' unions, said most of the players were not to blame.
"Only in exceptional circumstances are players involved. In most of the cases, the people involved are agents and people outside the dressing room," he told The Associated Press. "We should not underestimate the problem, but we should not overestimate it either. Thousands of matches are played by thousands and thousands of players. Professional players play to win.
"It's a team sport. You can't ask a whole team to (fix a match). Only the goalkeeper can do it and if he does it once he is thrown out of the team."
Meanwhile, the German fourth-tier club Ulm said it had suspended three players who are suspected of involvement in match-fixing. The three players are Davor Kraljevic, Marijo Marinovic and Dinko Radojevic.
Kraljevic's apartment was searched by police Thursday.
Ulm vice president Mario Meuler said the club is assuming that some of its games last season had been manipulated.
And at another fourth-tier club, SC Verl, the office of the president was broken into and a small safe and paper shredder vanished.
German authorities originally listed nine countries where they believe the manipulations had occurred: Austria, Belgium, Bosnia, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Slovenia, Switzerland and Turkey.
On Wednesday, UEFA also named clubs in Albania and Latvia and identified the five as KF Tirana, FC Dinaburg, KS Vllaznia, NK IB Ljubljana and Honved Budapest. Seven qualifying games in the Champions League and the Europa League between July 16 and Aug. 6 involving the five clubs were allegedly manipulated.