German player banned for accepting money to fix matches

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BERLIN (Reuters) -- Former professional Rene Schnitzler was banned for two-and-a-half-years from all soccer-related activities on Tuesday after he admitted accepting money to fix second division matches in 2008.

Schnitzler was playing for St Pauli at the time and dropped into regional football when he left the club the following year.

"Schnitzler admitted to the disciplinary panel that he met a Dutch gambler and mediator and discussed manipulating five championship matches involved St Pauli between May 2008 and November 2008," said the German federation in a statement.

"He (admitted) that he received payments for four of these games, to influence the result in favour of the team's respective opponents."

The statement added that there was no evidence to suggest that the match-fixing actually took place.

Schnitzler had admitted in an interview with Stern magazine in January that he took 100,000 euros from the Dutch representative of a betting outfit to influence games. He said he had been addicted to gambling since he was 18.

German media said the matches were against Hansa Rostock, Duisburg, Augsburg and twice against Mainz 05.

The DFB said Schnitzler had co-operated with its investigations and this had been taken into account when considering his sanction.

Match-fixing, usually induced by gambling syndicates, has become a huge concern in soccer over the last few years.

European soccer's governing body UEFA monitors 29,000 matches a year for possible irregular gambling patterns and receives information from 400 betting companies.