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April 20, 2021

Handball: Olympic Gold medalists arrested over match-fixing

Olympic gold medalists who thrilled London crowds with their skill over the summer were among 12 French handball players arrested over match-fixing allegations on Sunday, according to Daily Mail.In dramatic scenes in Paris, they were stopped by plainclothes police during a game before being driven away for questioning. Among them was Nikola Karabatic, the 28-year-old originally from Serbia who moved to France when he was three and is now Olympic, World and European champion.All are suspected of getting family members, including wives and girlfriends, to place money in betting shops across France during key games.In August France made history by staging a successful defence of their Olympic handball title with a tense victory over Sweden in the final.Eight of the players were from leading club side Montpellier, while two players from their opponents, Paris Saint-Germain, were also taken away. Both had played for Montpellier in the past. Montpellier has dominated French handball for the past 15 years, and supplied most of the players who won Olympic gold in London.But suspicions about match fixing and illegal betting were raised during a match that Montpellier lost 31-28 to Cesson-Sevigne on May 12.At the time, Montpellier were certain of their 13th league title in 15 seasons while their opponents were in eighth position.Betting firm La Francaise des Jeux reported abnormal betting patterns up to five times greater than expected and suspended bets during the match, said Agence France-Presse.Montpellier president Remy Levy told the local newspaper “Le Midi Libre” that he had been spoken to as part of the investigation but denied the club had been involved in match-fixing.“The club vigorously denies that it is involved in the result of the game,” Levy said in a statement.Joel Abati, a former Montpellier player and 2008 Olympic champion now in charge of sports affairs at the Languedoc Roussillon region, said there should be no rush to judge the players before the truth is learned.

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