February 20 – A total of 18 people, including three players, are to stand trial in the latest match-fixing case to hit Spain. Former Real Betis trio Xavier Torres, Antonio Amaya Carazo and Jordi Figueras are accused of accepting payments to rig results at the end of the 2013-14 La Liga season in an effort to ensure Osasuna avoided relegation.
A court statement said there was evidence that former Osasuna executives paid the players, then at Betis, €400,000 to beat Osasuna’s rivals Real Valladolid and €250,000 to lose to Osasuna in their final two matches of the campaign.
Both results happened – Betis beat Valladolid 4-3 and then lost 2-1 at Osasuna – but Pamplona-based Osasuna, Valladolid and Seville-based Betis, who have all denied involvement in match-fixing, were all still relegated.
Following a two-year investigation, the judge recommended that 18 of 29 people under suspicion, including six former Osasuna executives, stand trial on charges of misappropriation, corporate crime, document and account forgery and sporting fraud.
Court papers said the Osasuna executives “decided to use the money of Club Atletico Osasuna to keep the club at all costs in the First Division by paying certain amounts of money in cash to players of other teams with the aim of altering the result of the competition.”
Midfielder Torres, now with Sporting Gijon, Carazo, who joined Rayo Vallecano in 2016, and Figueras, who now plays at Karlsruher SC in Bundesliga 2, were all with Betis at the time.
In Malta, meanwhile, a court has described match fixing as “a cancer at the heart of football,” after Nigerian-born Uchenna Anyanwu, a naturalised Maltese citizen, manager of local top-flight club Pembroke FC was remanded in custody after Pembroke trounced Mosta FC 5-0.
The court was told match-fixing was “killing Maltese football” and the magistrate agreed. “The families follow the fortunes of their teams with passion, loyalty and devotion,” he said. “Match fixing betrays the trust, all that confidence and it’s like a cancer at the heart of football.”
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