The goalkeeper who was approached by match-fixers before a Champions League group game against Liverpool has strenuously denied trying to manipulate the result. Vukasin Poleksic's remarks came as his Hungarian club, Debrecen, confirmed he was questioned by Uefa over the 2009 fixture at Anfield.
Debrecen said Poleksic was banned by the governing body in 2010 for failing to report approaches from match-fixers before the tie against Liverpool and one at home to Fiorentina in the same competition, but that he had rejected the requests. The European Union intelligence-sharing agency, Europol, said on Monday that two Champions League matches are under suspicion of match-fixing, including one played in England "three or four years ago" but declined to identify which ones.
The Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet reported Europol was referring to the Debrecen tie at Liverpool, where the Hungarian team lost 1-0 with Poleksic in goal, but Europol have not confirmed if that was the match. Uefa took no action over the game and there is no ongoing police investigation, so if that was the match to which Europol were referring, it is not clear why it remains under suspicion.
Poleksic has rejected suggestions that he was part of failed plan to lose by more than two goals at Liverpool. "Anyone who watched the match would know that what people are saying is bull," he told the Daily Mail. "We lost 1-0 at Liverpool and I played a good game. I made lots of saves: a one-on-one against Albert Riera, one from Fernando Torres, one from Steven Gerrard. I remember it all. How can anyone say I threw the game?
"The match did not seem at all odd that night. There was nothing. I was just delighted to be playing at Anfield. It was a great night for me and my club and we played well."
Liverpool said they have had no contact from Europol or any other body in connection with match-fixing allegations surrounding that game. There is no suggestion that anyone at Liverpool was involved in any wrongdoing; no player or official involved with the game, including Poleksic, has since been disciplined for any offence relating to it, and Merseyside police said they had not been told any investigation is taking place.
When Poleksic was banned for two years in 2010 by Uefa it was thought that was only for failing to report an approach from match-fixers involving Debrecen's 4-3 defeat to Fiorentina in October 2009, a month after the Anfield tie. Poleksic appealed his case to the court of arbitration for sport which upheld the ban, saying: "It had been proven to its comfortable satisfaction that there had been contacts between the player and the members of a criminal group involved in match-fixing and betting fraud and that he was obliged to have reported the said contacts to Uefa. By failing to make such a report, Poleksic had violated the principles of conduct set forth in the Uefa regulations." It added, however, that it had not established that any match-fixing did take place.
Ekstra Bladet reported that mobile telephones tapped by police in the German city of Bochum had suggested criminals had attempted to influence Debrecen's performance at Liverpool. However, any suspected fix did not apparently succeed; Liverpool won only 1-0, not 3-0 as the telephone taps suggested the fixers had wanted. No prosecution or disciplinary action took place relating to that match. A Liverpool spokesman said: "We have had no contact from Europol or any other organisation over this."
Poleksic said: "It was the biggest match of my career. Liverpool have always been my favourite club. I love them and can't believe what people have said about me. But I know I am clean."
He added of his ban: "Every goalkeeper in the world makes mistakes but my big one was that I didn't call the police. I didn't play for two years because of this but it's my fault because I didn't report it. But I didn't fix anything."
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
image: © Sanjiva