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Prosecution: 3 ex-players formed Austria criminal organization to fix 18 league matches

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GRAZ, Austria — Three ex-players in Austria formed a criminal organization during their careers and attempted to manipulate 18 national league games from 2004 to 2013 with bets of up to 300,000 euros ($415,000) per match, state prosecutors said on Friday.

Sanel Kuljic, Dominique Taboga and Johannes Lamprecht have allegedly been fixing matches in the country's first and second divisions, offering other players 7,000 to 40,000 euros to help manipulate games, prosecutors said.

Three of the 18 matches were played this season, and all first-division games under suspicion include either Kapfenberg or Groedig — both former clubs of Taboga.

The trio and seven other unidentified persons have been charged for their alleged role in the biggest match-fixing scandal to rock Austrian football.

Prosecutors have also brought charges against Kuljic and four others for physically threatening Taboga and Lamprecht after some match-fixing attempts failed. The five men allegedly forced Taboga and Lamprecht into handing over money, cars and a laptop to settle the bets they lost.

Investigators said they obtained a list with 26 footballers' names on it from two Albanian men, who were arrested in November for allegedly helping the trio coordinate the fixing and placing of bets with Asian online bookmakers.

Prosecutors said criminal investigations were ongoing and 15 more people could be charged for their alleged involvement, while cases against 18 other suspects have been dropped due to a lack of evidence.

In February, the Austrian Football Federation handed Taboga, who played for Groedig until November, a lifetime ban after the player admitted wrongdoing.

Kuljic is a 20-time Austria international who was a teammate of Taboga at Kapfenberg in the first half of 2012 and retired later that year with a knee injury. Lamprecht played for FC Carinthia in the top division before ending his career at Wolfsberger AC in 2009.

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