Can't Beat 'Em? Join 'Em: German Soccer Federation to Create Its Own Betting Operation

MAINZ Germany (AP) - Reacting to Germany's match-fixing scandal the national soccer federation banned all betting on games by players coaches officials and referees -- while announcing plans to set up its own bookmaking operation Thursday.

The German soccer federation (DFB) is studying plans to open its own betting shop starting with the 2006-07 season.

"We want a fair part of this market'' said Theo Zwanziger one of two DFB co-presidents. "We can't allow soccer to remain a platform for others to make a profit while we get used.''

The soccer betting market is estimated to be worth about US $3.9 billion a year in Germany.

The DFB has a sponsorship contract with Oddset a state-run sports betting agency that has lost its market share to private bookmakers and accounts for about one-sixth of the total annual turnover.

The federation's sponsorship deal with Oddset runs out next year.

The decisions were made an emergency session of the federation's general assembly attended by 253 delegates. The federations has about six million registered members in Germany.

The assembly was called in reaction to the country's worst match-fixing scandal in more than 30 years.

Referee Robert Hoyzer in January admitted receiving US $87000 from Croatian gamblers to fix games they bet on. He has confessed to manipulating four games and trying to fix three others.

Berlin prosecutors are investigating 25 people -- including four referees and 14 players -- suspected of fixing at least 10 games mostly in lower divisions.