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Accused handball star Karabatic describes 'nightmare' after release on bail

Reuters/Jean-Paul Pelissier

French handball star Nikola Karabatic said he was living a nightmare after being questioned over alleged match-fixing on Tuesday. He and his brother Luka were released on bail but banned from seeing anyone else involved in the case apart from their girlfriends.

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“I’ve dedicated my life to handball since I was born,” a weeping Nikola Karabatic told reporters. “Portraying me as a cheat is unacceptable.”

The case is a "nightmare for me", he said, "handball is my life and my father's before me".

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After being questioned in Montpellier, the home of his team, about the match-fixing allegations, he insisted that hadn’t placed a bet himself but admitted that his girlfriend had done so.

After following the team for two years, she knew that it had lost to Nimes and had five injured players, he said, justifying her decision to bet against her boyfriend’s team in a match with Rennes that it did, in fact, lose.

Both Karabatices have been banned from meeting the club’s management or any of the other accused, five other players and four other people who placed bets, including a bar owner believed to be the brains behind the scam. They are, however, allowed to enjoy the company of their girlfriends.

The ruling means they are effectively unemployed, one of their lawyers, Jean-Marc Phung said.

Phonetaps enabled police to hear the suspects say that they had decided to make some money because they were sure their team would lose, according to leaks to RTL radio.

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