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AFTER HELPING POLICE TO CATCH TOP FA OFFICIAL, STANISLAV SZABO IDENTIFIED CORRUPTION AT HIGHEST LEVELS OF SLOVAK FOOTBALL

Club owner: Wänke on the take for years

STANISLAV Szabo, owner of the ŠK Eldus Močenok football club, told the SITA news agency that the bribe he paid FA deputy director Vladimír Wänke on March 6 as part of a police sting operation was not the first time he had paid Wänke off.

STANISLAV Szabo, owner of the ŠK Eldus Močenok football club, told the SITA news agency that the bribe he paid FA deputy director Vladimír Wänke on March 6 as part of a police sting operation was not the first time he had paid Wänke off.

Following a press conference called by Wänke, at which the latter accused Szabo of entrapping him out of revenge, Szabo issued a statement fingering Wänke as part of a corrupt football system in Slovakia.

"He took the money right out of my hand. Ten thousand crowns. It was caught on video tape - the whole thing was agreed beforehand with the police," Szabo said.

Szabo had earlier alerted police that the bribe was to be paid, and agreed to work with them as an agent. Wänke denied taking the envelope, and said Szabo put it on his desk without his knowing. He cited FA employee Dáša Krilová as a witness.

But Szabo denied Wänke's version. "I gave him a bribe, and it wasn't the first time either, you can be sure of that. He got Sk5,000 from me on a regular basis, every time a player joined our club over the past seven years. But this time it made me puke, so I told the police about it. They didn't want to believe me, but I told them I would prove it. Corruption goes right to the top, and I hope I've done enough to prove that even the biggest fish are on the take.

"The corruption is everywhere, from top to bottom. The higher you go the greater the corruption."

Szabo's club played in the third division in Slovakia as recently as the 2000/2001 season, but since then has made a huge leap to enter the premier league in 2007/2008.

"The officials from Kráľová nad Váhom gave him [Wänke] a bribe right in front of my eyes. I talked with them, recorded the conversation and gave it to the police. On Thursday evening [March 1] Šaľa gave him Sk5,000 for arranging the trade of a player from Jihlava. He's really enjoying a harvest right now. He does it all the time. Players who want to play with foreign clubs have to pay him 300 to 500 dollars or euros, depending on what team they want to play for. And if clubs here want to acquire a foreign player, they have to pay Mr. Wänke, otherwise they face obstruction and that's the end of it.

"The basic payment is Sk5,000. He [Wänke] arranged two players for us, Drahna and Masarovič. He still didn't want to register Masarovič's transfer, so last game we played without him. On Thursday our coach visited him [Wänke] to pick up the registration, and was told that February was a short month and we still had to wait. He didn't get it on Friday either, so on Tuesday I had to go and pay the 'stamps'," Szabo said, using a word - kolky - that normally refers to stamps paid as fees to bureaucratic offices in Slovakia in lieu of money.

"In football, we use the word kolky to refer to bribe money. When we go [to see Wänke], we ask each other: 'Do you have your kolky? Don't bother going without your kolky.' A Sk5,000 note is called a red kolok, for example."

"Corruption is everywhere, it's not just Mr. Wänke. It's also the referees and the FA delegates [whose job it is to attend matches and supervise the work of referees]. Whenever we are alone, one-on-one, they ask 'Aren't you going to give me something? Have I come here for nothing?' Prešov, for example, makes a rule of paying Sk60,000 whether they are playing at home or away.

"On Sunday we played in Zlaté Moravce. It was a scandal, and the fans were laughing in the stands. Seven yellow cards were shown and one red. I asked the club owner: 'Mr. Ondrejka, is this payback for putting them up in hotels and throwing parties for them?'

"We have to change the rule that you have to pay, pay, pay to Wänke, the referees, the delegates. The fans are losing interest, and the games are fixed. Betting shops are going out of business. We've had enough of this filth."

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