Three former players at center of Austrian match-fixing investigation

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Reports out of Austria have indicated that three former players in the Austrian Bundesliga have been charged in a relatively large match-fixing investigation.

Sanel Kuljic, Dominique Taboga and Johannes Lamprecht reportedly banded together and offered players anywhere between $10,000 and $55,000 to influence matches, and placed subsequent bets of up to $415,000 on the fixed matches.

The case was first brought public in November, when it was revealed that 17 first-division matches were influenced, all involving the clubs Kapfenberg or Groedig, two of which are from early this season.

31-year-old Taboga has since admitted he tried to persuade four teammates at Groedig to throw matches, and has since received a lifetime ban.

However, he has brought charges against Kuljic (pictured, from 2010), saying the 36-year-old used a personal debt to force him and Lamprecht into the fixing ring, and claimed Kuljic threatened the two after they refused to fix matches.

The claims state Kuljic threatened the pair until they were forced to hand over items such as laptops and cars in lieu of money.

Kuljic claims he was trying to collect on a loan he gave his former teammate to buy furniture.

However, investigators say they have a list of 26 names, including the trio, obtained from two unnamed Albanian men who apparently arranged the fixing.  Seven other “unnamed persons” have been charged, and prosecutors say they could add up to 15 more to the list in the near future.

The fixing allegedly began in 2004.  Kuljic retired back in 2012 due to ligament tears after registering three goals for the Bosnia-Herzegovnian national team, while Taboga was playing for Grodig during his arrest in November.  Lamprecht has not played since the 2008/09 season.

Men in Blazers: Jurgen Klopp talks loss of Coutinho and more

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Roger Bennett talks with manager Jurgen Klopp about revolutionizing Liverpool, his Greatest Show on Turf-esque offense, the loss of Philippe Coutinho and how he keeps football in perspective.

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MLS: Higuain extends with Crew, Royer gets new deal with Red Bulls

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Two key midfielders earned new deals on Thursday, as two of the Eastern Conference’s recent successes helped solidify for their attacks for the next few years.

The Columbus Crew extended Designated Player attacker Federico Higuain through the 2019 MLS season.

Higuain has been with the Crew since 2012, when the Argentine joined the club from Colon de Santa Fe in his native country.

Meanwhile, the New York Red Bulls extended Daniel Royer’s contract, as the Austrian winger in the midst of his third season with Jesse Marsch’s group.

Thus far, Royer has tallied 17 goals in all competitions for the Red Bulls, including 15 during the 2017 campaign, where the former Midtjylland player finished second on the team in goals behind Bradley Wright-Phillips.

UEL: Griezmann nabs crucial away goal vs. Arsenal, Marseille cruises

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A game of back-and-forth at the Emirates Stadium set up an enticing second leg in the UEFA Europa League semifinals, while a Ligue 1 side positioned itself well to move into the final.

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks ]

Arsenal and Atletico Madrid settled for a 1-1 draw in London, as Antoine Griezmann’s late strike leveled the match for the Spanish side.

The Gunners looked on their way to a victory when Alexandre Lacazette‘s goal just beyond the hour mark put Arsene Wenger‘s men in front.

The result sets up a strong showdown for the two giants in a week’s time, although Arsenal will feel it left something on the table after racking up 26 shots (seven on target) on the day, particularly after Sime Vrsaljko was sent off after 10 minutes for the visitors when he picked up a second yellow card.

Meanwhile, Florian Thauvin and Clinton Njie gave Marseille a 2-0 win over Red Bull Leipzig, giving the French side the edge it sought out ahead of the competition finale.

The two clubs will meet again at Red Bull Arena Salzburg for the second leg.


Arsenal 1-1 Atletico Madrid
Marseille 2-0 Red Bull Salzburg

Europa League, LIVE: Arsenal, Marseille host first legs

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Diego Costa brings a solid career record against Arsenal back to London in a bid to ruin Arsene Wenger‘s farewell season at the Emirates Stadium.

[ FOLLOW: Arsenal vs. Atleti ]

The now-Atletico Madrid forward returns to England on Thursday as his La Liga outfit aims to stop Arsenal from reaching next month’s Europa League Final in Lyon.

[ FOLLOW: Marseille vs. Red Bull Salzburg ]

That’s a 3:05 p.m. ET kickoff, the same as Marseille’s date with Red Bull Salzburg in France.

ARSENAL-ATLETICO MADRID LINEUPS

Arsenal: Ospina, Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal, Xhaka, Wilshere, Ramsey, Welbeck, Ozil, Lacazette. Subs: Cech, Maitland-Niles, Holding, Chambers, Kolasinac, Iwobi, Nketiah.

Atleti: Oblak, Lucas, Godin, Gimenez, Vrsaljko, Saul, Thomas, Koke, Correa, Griezmann, Gameiro. Subs: Werner, Savic, Gabi, Vitolo, Olabe, Torres, Costa.