An inquiry has been launched on suspicions that players at France’s top club Montpellier deliberately threw a game for cash after their wives and girlfriends scooped 200,000 euros at the bookmakers.
Eight players from France’s top handball team have been accused of deliberately throwing a game in order to win tens of thousands of euros at the bookmakers.
Three of the accused, from national champions Montpellier, were also members of France’s victorious national Olympic team – known as “Les Experts” – in a scandal that has rocked the handball-obsessed nation.
The “Française des Jeux” (FDJ), a state organisation that oversees all betting activities in France, suspects that wives and girlfriends of the players were forewarned when they placed bets that Montpellier would lose what should have been an easy game against Brittany team Cesson-Sévigné.
The FDJ raised the alert after a total of 5,000 euros they bet at three tobacconist-bookmakers netted them a haul of 200,000 euros.
Montpellier lost the game by three points (28-31) in the away match on May 12.
“It was very surprising result,” according to daily sports newspaper L’Equipe on Wednesday. “Cesson-Sévigné were struggling to stay in France’s Division 1 while Montpellier were firmly at the top.”
On Wednesday magistrates officially opened an inquiry into the allegations.
They will have to wait until the team comes back from Germany where it is competing in the European Handball Champions League before they can start interviewing the players.
There was consternation in Montpellier after details of the allegations emerged.
Patrick Vignal, deputy mayor and city councillor in charge of sport, told reporters: “It’s simply unimaginable that Montpellier’s handballers could sink so low. I find it hard to believe that such rottenness could have crept in like this.”
Cesson-Sévigné club president Philippe Barberet said he was “in shock”
“I am devastated, I really don’t understand it,” he told RTL radio on Wednesday. “If the inquiry shows that these players actually did this, it would be a tragedy.
“It would be terrible for French handball’s image, especially as some of the accused players are on the national team and are very well-paid.”
Neither Montpellier Handball Club nor the French Handball Federation had made any comment when this article was published.
Date created : 2012-09-26