Rumori di Spogliatoio

The 'Subbotin Affair'

Angelo PalmeriComment

Yesterday we reported Jahn Regensburg’s Sport Director words to local German newspaper ‘Blizz’.

Before going into analyze further this piece of news, we need to explain few things.

It was a simple report of a piece of news appeared on another media, with no opinion or judgement by his author (myself) about the statement made. This is quite common practice in Estonia and elsewhere, reporting news from other media by quoting the media.
In Estonia is actually 90% of the average online journalist job.  

For instance: this episode involving Turkey goalkeepers, it was reported on all major media of the World and therefore brought to Estonia similarly. There was not any inquiry or investigation made and it's doubtlessly based on eyewitnessing. Simple news report without any judgement/opinion by the author.
In the case of Keller's words, these were reported as '...'. Common practice: newspaper X interviews B and newspaper Y reports words pronounced by B without asking B whether he has really said that or not. Really hard to imagine all the other newspapers asking B if he really pronounced those words...

Now we come to the consequences our simple report had.

The original article on 'Blizz' in German as it appeared on Sunday the 16th of November. As you can see, the sentence regarding Aivar Pohlak appears at the end of a longer interview between the author Mario Hahn and Christian Keller (click to enlarge)

Following our article which surfaced the words by Christian Keller, there was a strong reaction by the Estonian FA president, Aivar Pohlak, to the words contained in that article. We stress once and again, they were a simple translation of what contained in this interview made by journalist Mario Hahn with the club official.

According to Mr.Pohlak's words released to, he had never spoken to Keller before. ‘I swear on my children’s health’ he declared to the popular Estonian webportal, which was ready to collect the FA chairman words few hours after.

Pohlak explained that, not only he never talked with Keller, but he never talked with anyone at SSV Jahn Regensburg and he never talked about Igor Subbotin, still a FC Levadia player. According to Pohlak, it looks like there is a plot behind these accusations aimed at damaging his reputation. The Estonian FA chairman hints at someone connected with matchfixing who is trying to strike back after being disturbed by the FA action in fighting against the matchfixing plague. 

The author's opinion about the latter statements, it's that the chairman has taken a simple misunderstanding as a plot against him. He might have his own reasons to do so, however what we will soon illustrate will explain that it's just about a misunderstanding.

Additionally, and most importantly, Pohlak reported to have talked to Keller later on during the day (17th of November) and Keller denied to have released those words to Blizz and added that he would have released a written statement (assumingly on the club website) regarding what happened. The statement has not appeared on the website though as it was just sent via e-mail to Mr. Pohlak (we will soon show it to you).

The words Keller denies are the following ones which assumingly explain why the planned trial in Regensburg for Igor Subbotin was aborted:

All of a sudden, the Estonian FA have involved themselves in this operation. Their president (Aivar Pohlak) – to say it a bit direct – wanted also to earn something. That’s the reason why we decided to stop the operation.
The author of the Soccernet's article has expressedly labelled the story as a 'invention of the German paper' ('Saksamaa lehe väljamõeldis')

Another webportal, has echoed the words released by Pohlak labelling the entire story as 'lie' ('valejutt' in Estonian) and something invented by the Regensburg newpaper. Additionally, the author of the article, added that Christian Keller has already apologize with Pohlak during their talk.

As in the case of the assumed 'plot', the author deems once again that it all seems to be a big misunderstanding rather than an invention. However, we will let the author of the German article to clarify himself.

Rumori, in order to provide a complete picture of what has happened and give its readers the chance to check each existing version, has reached the other parties of this affair, provided that Mr. Aivar Pohlak has insisted with us about his total un-involvement in the events and we obviously believe what he says especially when it's verified and confirmed by one of the two parties.

We could never talk with Christian Keller.
Busy with club activities (SSV Jahn Regensburg recently appointed a new head coach) Mr. Keller has delegated the club's press officer, Mr. Till Müller, to get in touch with us and provide all the relevant information to try and understand the case.

Mr. Müller talked with us over the phone ealier in the evening.

Mr. Müller, can you confirm that this interview on Blizz did actually take place?
Yes, I do confirm that. The interview was given by Mr.Keller to Mr.Hahn over the phone.
So, can you tell him what happened with Mr. Keller making the name of the 'President of the FA'?
The quote from Mr. Keller was reported wrongly. We confirm that SSV Jahn Regensburg was interested in Igor Subbotin as reported in your website. We also sent an invitation to the club (Mr.Müller provided a copy to Rumori that you can find here - for privacy reasons personal informations have been removed, however the document was addressed to a Levadia employee). Unfortunately there were several agents who offered the player at the same time and this was the reason why we withdrew. 
I see, but somehow the name of the Estonian FA was made, could you explain why?
The name was made indeed, however the quote was reported in a wrong way.

Mr. Müller promised Rumori to send a copy of the letter that Mr.Keller has sent to Mr. Pohlak where the facts are explained correctly.
We received this copy and you can read it in full here.

The relevant part it is contained in the following screenshot (click to enlarge - the underlined part is ours):

At this point, we tried to contact Mario Hahn at Blizz, however the author was unavailable as away on holidays.

We are available for his version of the story and for confirming that there was a misunderstanding in reporting the words pronounced by Mr.Keller.