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Georgia Detains Eight In Suspected Soccer Match-Fixing Scheme

TBILISI -- Georgia's Interior Ministry says police have detained eight people, including a soccer team president and two current players, on suspicion of fixing matches in the country's main league.

The suspects are the president of the club STI Tbilisi, Otar Shengelia, two Kharagauli Chkherimela players identified as Giorgi G. and Temur S., two former players identified as David Gendzekhadze and Giga B., a bookmaking company representative, and two Tbilisi residents.

The ministry said on May 5 that an investigation in Tbilisi and Georgia's second-largest city, Kutaisi, indicated that the suspects were involved in prearranging match results, suggesting they paid substantial bribes to unnamed representatives of teams in the former Soviet republic.

It said they bet on fixed matches online and divided up their winnings.

They face up to six years in prison if found guilty of "bribing participants in a sporting event."

Georgia’s Soccer Federation issued a statement on May 5 saying that it has been cooperating fully with the investigation.

"We really hope that soccer players taking part in the national championship, their coaches, the referees, and other employees of all soccer clubs will understand the extent of damage inflicted by the situation on Georgia's soccer image and stop taking part in such deals," it said.

The soccer team representatives have reportedly received significant payments for agreeing to fix the games.

With reporting by Interfax and