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Ex-Zenit St Petersburg player says he fixed UEFA Cup tie by paying referee

Stockholm: Former FC Zenit Saint Petersburg defender Erik Hagen said Wednesday that he had paid a referee to fix a UEFA Cup match during his time at the Russian team.

The 38-year old Norwegian footballer said that it was customary to pay for match-fixing and he and his teammates each paid a referee USD 3,000 (2,180 euros) to secure the outcome of a UEFA Cup match between 2005 and 2008.

In return he said each of them received a USD 12,000 bonus. "I can't remember which match it was... I asked 'what's going on' and they just said 'you got to get used to this because that's how it is'," he told Norwegian daily VG.

Asked whether he had brought the issue to the attention of UEFA he said he would "tell them the same thing if they ring me."

"Someone has to be the first to do this," he said. "There are lots of rumours about corruption in international football."

A spokesman for the Russian team, Evgueny Gusev denied the allegations. "We are deeply astonished by the statement of Erik Hagen," he told state news agency RIA Novosti.

"Zenit has always followed and follows the principles of fair play and proves its worth only on the football field."

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