Former Hajduk Split bosses tried for embezzlement

Zagreb: Six former senior officials from one of Croatia`s biggest football teams, Hajduk Split, went on trial on Thursday, charged with embezzling millions of euros.

The six, who held top posts in the club in the late 1990s, pleaded not guilty before the court in the central Adriatic town of Split, local media reported.

They were charged with embezzling some 238,000 euros ($325,000) through various illegal activities, including taking money from the rights for televised matches, and forging official documents.

Four of the suspects were also indicted for failing to declare income from the sale of players from 1997 to 2000, thus denying the taxman some 13 million euros ($18 million).

Among the suspects is Croatia`s former star player Ivica Surjak.

Hajduk Split, founded 113 years ago, is among Croatia`s leading football clubs.

The team has won 18 league titles, six of them since Croatia proclaimed independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991.

It has also reached the Champions League quarter-finals on three occasions.

Hajduk Split finished in third place in the season just finished, behind arch-rivals Dinamo Zagreb and Rijeka.

Croatian football has, in recent years, been rocked by financial problems, match-fixing and bribing scandals.

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