Swiss ban nine in connection with matchfixing

BERNE, May 21 (Reuters) - Nine Swiss-based lower-division players have been banned, including five indefinitely, in connection with a matchfixing scandal uncovered last year by German police, the Switzerland Football Federation (SFV) said.

"The disciplinary commission of the Swiss football federation has sanctioned nine players in connection with the so-called betting scandal," said the SFV in a statement.

"The SFV is, according to current information, the first and only national association to have dealt with the suspicions of matchfixing which were raised by the public prosecutors in Bochum in the autumn of 2009."

In addition to the five who were given indefinite bans, one player was banned for 36 months, two for 24 months and one for 12 months, the SFV said.

German police said last month that they had dismantled a gang with more than 200 suspected members operating in nine European leagues.

Police in Germany, Britain, Austria and Switzerland cracked down on the ring, staging simultaneous raids that resulted in 15 arrests in Germany and two in Switzerland.

The ring was reported to have tried to fix around 200 matches across the continent.

"The players have on one or more occasion broken the SFV's anti-gambling regulations," added the statement.

"According to this rule, it is forbidden to promise, offer, ask for or accept any money with the aim of influencing or faking the result of any match."

The players banned indefinitely were Pape Omar Faye (playing for FC Thun at the time), Mario Bigoni, Marc Luetolf and Darko Damjanovic (all FC Gossau) and an unnamed amateur from SV Slavonija Bern.

Eldar Ikanovic (FC Thun) was banned for 36 months while Boze Gudelj (FC Fribourg) and David Blumer (FC Thun) were suspended for 24 months and Anto Franjic (FC Wil 1900/FC Vaduz) was given 12 months.

Apart from the SV Slavonija Bern player, all the players were involved in the Challenge League - the second tier - at the time.

UEFA president Michel Platini last year described match-fixing as the biggest scourge facing the sport.