A Rare Glimpse Inside the World of Match-Fixing: The Story of Mario Cizmek

Mario Cizmek is speaking at the opening of Play the Game 2013. Photo: Peter Søndergaard

His two daughters were standing alone, watching their father being hauled away by police. He was being arrested on charges of match fixing and now he could tell his story.

Mario Cizmek had 16 year long football career mostly based in his native Croatia. Usually a player like him would remain unknown outside Croatia.

But Cizmek was convicted of fixing matches and is one of the rare cases of footballers openly talking about the matter.

Money woes was the starting point

The Croatian was playing for Croatia Seveste who had big financial trouble. The players hadn’t been paid for an astounding 14 months and Cizmeks debts were rising by the minute.

Cizmek and his fellow teammates were perfect targets for match fixing. Desperate and in the need of money, former assistant coach at Dinamo Zagreb, Vinko Saka, convinced several of the players to lose matches on purpose.

Saka would give loans to the money hungering players and then force them into throwing matches in order to pay back their debt.

Cizmek sentenced to jail and banned from football

The Croatian pleaded guilty of fixing six games and cooperated with the authorities. Of the 14 persons accused of match fixing Cizmek got longest sentence. 10 months in jail.

“Twenty years of hard work I destroyed in just one month,” Cizmek told Fox News in February.

Mario Cizmek will be speaking at the Play The Game conference in Aarhus on Monday the 28th of October.

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