A guide to Germany’s new criminal law against betting fraud and match-fixing in sports

Published 14 September 2017 | Authored by: Christian Keidel

In 2005, the German sports world was shaken by a match fixing scandal. The referee Robert Hoyzer (amongst others) put the integrity of German football on the line. Mr Hoyzer had agreed to manipulate at least ten professional football matches in exchange for money. One of these matches was the German Football Federation (DFB) Cup first round match between Hamburger SV (“HSV”) and SC Paderborn 07.

As the latter was playing in the fourth German league at that time, HSV, a club playing in the Bundesliga (the first German Football league) since its inception, was obviously the clear favourite among the betting providers. In order to manipulate this match, Mr Hoyzer obviously and intentionally awarded two penalties in favour of SC Paderborn and a red card against HSV. HSV lost 2:4 and the persons having bet on Paderborn made a fortune. In the following criminal proceedings, Mr. Sapina, who offered and paid the money to Mr. Hoyzer, was sentenced to two years and eleven months in prison for ten cases of fraud by the Federal Supreme Court of Justice (BGH) while Mr. Hoyzer received a sentence of two years and five months for aiding fraud in six cases.[1]

These criminal proceedings revealed difficulties in applying the fraud provisions of the German Criminal Code (GCC) on persons initiating the betting fraud on the field of play – like referees, athletes, etc.  In order to adequately and comprehensively cover cases related to betting fraud and other kinds of manipulation of sport events, the German government decided to amend the GCC in November 2013.[2] On 7 March 2017, the governmental draft of the amendments to the GCC was passed by the German parliament, and, on 19 April 2017, the bill came into force.

The bill introduces, among other things, two new Sections to the GCC: Section 265c (“betting fraud in sports”) and Section 265d (“manipulation of professional sports competitions”). The new Sections aim to protect the credibility and authenticity in sporting competitions[3] and the financial/economic interests of clubs, athletes (Section 265d) as well as fair bettors and betting providers (Section 265c).[4] The ideal goal of this legislation is to close the gap in criminal liability left open by Section 263 and completely eliminate any interference with integrity of sports competition through betting fraud and match-fixing.

This article explains the two amended Sections to the GCC and then reviews the main criticisms that the new law has received.  Specifically it looks at: 

  • Section 265c GCC – betting fraud in sports
    • Possible offenders
    • Possible offences

  • Sections 265d GCC – manipulation of professional sport competitions

  • Effects for clubs and the German Football Federation

  • Criticism

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About the Author

Christian Keidel

Christian Keidel

Christian Keidel is a salary partner at Martens Lawyers in Munich, Germany. He joined Martens Lawyers as part of the initial spin-off team from Beiten Burkhardt, an international commercial law practice. Christian holds a legal degree from the University of Munich and has also studied at the University of Seville.

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