• 2005-08-24
The captain of the Latvian football team reportedly said that money was offered to lose last week's world championship qualifying match with Russia. Vitalijs Astafjevs, who scored the only goal for the Latvian side on Aug. 17, declined to tell Sporta Avize, how large the bribe was, but said it was "impressive."

"That wasn't just talk. That was bribery from the Russian side - they offered money so that we would lose the game," Astafjevs told the sports newspaper. Officials from the Latvian side, however, have denied any knowledge of Russian bribery.

Artyom Vagin from the Russian Soccer Union's press service categorically denied to Leta that the union could have offered money to the Latvian Soccer Federation or the Latvian team's players so they lose the qualifier in favor of Russia. He said that persons not affiliated with the Russian Soccer Union could not have made such proposals either.

"We believe that such statements should be considered a political provocation against Russia," Vagin stressed. He regrets that "now soccer has also been drawn into politics."

"The Russian Soccer Union will not check the information [about the reported bribery attempt]. How can we probe something that makes no sense," Vagin asked.