Three days after leading France to a sixth world handball championship team captain Nikola Karabatic and brother Luka were given two-month suspended sentences for their key role in a betting scandal.
The brothers were feted as national heroes on Sunday after France beat Norway for the world title in Paris, but on Wednesday the pair were handed the stiffer penalties on appeal in Montpellier, where they played in 2012, having previously only been fined.
Bets totalling 100,000 euros were placed that Montpellier would be losing at half-time of a match played May 12, 2012, a substantial part of the sum being placed by Luka's girlfriend Jennifer Priez.
Montpellier, who indeed were losing at half-time and were eventually beaten, had already won the French championships and their opponents were fighting relegation.
Most of the 16 people involved in the nefarious scheme were handed fines of around 10,000 euros at the first sentencing in 2015 and Wednesday's proceeding was an appeal by Nikola, who was named best player of the world championships.
While Luka and Priez had admitted gambling, elder brother Nikola denied all charges. Priez told the court the bets had been a naive mistake. La Française des Jeux, which runs a tote system in France and sponsored Montpellier's handball team, spotted the unusual bets.
"There was a brutal influx of betting an hour before the game with 100,000 euros being laid in an hour," Francaise des Jeux said. One of the lawyers for Nikola, Philippe Nemausat, said the sentences were harsh so as to set an example and said there would be a further appeal.
"There is no proof of fraud," Nemausat said. "So it's a judgment that we should contest. The game goes on." French handball stars are to appeal the two-month suspended prison sentences they received in a match-fixing betting scam.
The brothers were feted as national heroes last Sunday after France beat Norway for the world title in Paris, but in midweek the pair were handed the stiffer penalties on appeal in Montpellier, where they played in 2012, having previously only been fined.
France team captain Nikola Karabatic was voted player of the tournament as France won the 2017 world championships. He had led the appeal against a 2015 ruling. But on appeal a judge added a two months suspended prison sentence to each of the brothers, who have iconic status in French sport.
Source: GMB / MARCA