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By ESPN Staff

Waterink banned in match-fixing case

FRANKFURT, April 7 (Reuters) - Thijs Waterink of regional league side Paderborn SC has become the first player to be banned in connection with Germany's match-fixing scandal with a playing suspension until July 31.

The German Football Association (DFB) said on Thursday the Dutch player had been found guilty of "unsporting behaviour and passive corruption".

Waterink, the Paderborn captain, admitted accepting 10,000 euros ($12,920) from an unidentified man before the side's Cup match against Hamburg SV earlier this season.

The match, won 4-2 by Paderborn, was later found to have been rigged by Robert Hoyzer, the Berlin-based referee who has admitted taking 67,000 euros ($86,560) to fix matches for a Croatian betting ring.

Waterink, who was not accused of actively helping to fix the match, was told he could keep the money if his team won the match.

He did not tell his team mates about the gift before the match. After the victory, he gave 500 euros to each man.

The ban is significantly less severe than the eight-month suspension that was recommended by the DFB's disciplinary committee.

Hoyzer, the referee at the centre of German football's worst corruption case in over 30 years, is co-operating with prosecutors after admitting taking bribes.

Hoyzer has implicated other referees and second division players. Referee Dominik Marks was released from police custody on bail this week and, like Hoyzer, is facing fraud charges.

Steffen Karl, a player from third division Chemnitz FC, was arrested last month on fraud and organised crime charges.

The scandal has tarnished the reputation of German football as the country is prepares to host the 2006 World Cup.