It has been claimed this week by sources in Spain that last season`s UEFA Cup winners were involved in match-fixing en route to the continental crown.

ABC reported that £32m was paid to Zenit`s semi-final opponents - Bavarian giants Bayern Munich - by mafia men Gennadios Petrov and Leonid Khristoforov. The pair were recently among 13 people who were arrested in Spain over numerous charges, including money laundering.

Having dispatched of Bayern, Dick Advocaat`s Russian outfit then went on to beat Rangers 2-0 in the Manchester final in May. Doubts apparently also hang over the showpiece final.

Although ABC are unsure about the exact details of the supposed scam - an an illegal betting syndicate has been mentioned - El Pais further claim that criminal investigator Judge Baltasar Garzon has already been in touch with German authorities over the allegations.


Worried UEFA, though, have vowed to get to the bottom of the shock reports. Director of communications William Gaillard said: "Our disciplinary unit will try to get in touch with the Spanish judge and see if he can share some of his information. We will be looking into this."

The clubs involved, meanwhile, have moved quickly to deny any part in unsavoury goings-on.

A statement issued by Zenit via their official website reads: "The quality of play shown by FC Zenit in the games against Rangers FC and Bayern Munich is the best proof that the victories were earned by Zenit in honest and non-compromising challenges.

"Allegations of deals mentioned in the media are offensive to all parties mentioned. FC Zenit`s legal department are evaluating the origins of the story."

A brief Bayern statement reads: "Bayern Munich knows nothing about this suspicion, and neither does the Munich prosecutor`s office."

Dirty Dick

Speaking to the Daily Record about the storm, boss Dick Advocaat (pictured with the trophy) has blamed `jealousy` for the stunning reports.

"This is incredible,” said the stunned Dutchman, "Everyone knows the simple truth - we had a better team than Rangers. That`s why we won the Uefa Cup.

"There is a lot of jealousy about what we have achieved with Zenit in such a short space of time. People don`t like the fact that we have been so successful so quickly.

"But that has nothing to do with bribes or dirty money."