April 5 – Two players and one senior official have now reportedly been arrested as part of a probe into possible match-fixing surrounding Eldense’s 12-0 hammering by Barcelona B in the Spanish third tier.
Spanish authorities declined to name the two players but local media reports identified them as Nicolás Cháfer García and Michael Wayne Fernández Greenwood while police confirmed that Eldense managing director Nobile Capuani had also been detained.
The club’s Italian coach Filippo Di Pierro, who joined the club in January after being hired by the Italian investment group which manages Eldense’s sporting and financial affairs, is already being held on suspicion of alleged corruption.
The highly suspect result last weekend, which prompted Eldense president David Aguilar to report his suspicions to police, relegated the Alicante-based club to the fourth tier of Spanish football .
As the plot thickened, Eldense defender Emmanuel Mendy was quoted as saying in a interview with radio station Cadena Ser that the club’s assistant coach, Fran Ruiz, had spoken to him in a hotel before the game about the matchfixing scheme.
“He asked me if I was in and how much I wanted and if I wasn’t in then I wouldn’t play,” Mendy said. “Fran said this to me because the head coach doesn’t speak very good Spanish.”
Also speaking to Cadena Ser, Ruiz confirmed the story but said he was only passing on orders from Di Pierro.
“In principle the orders came from above, from the coach. I didn’t know what to do, I was between a rock and a hard place,” Ruiz said. “I didn’t say a word in the dugout, I made no substitutions and I didn’t send anyone out to warm up. Then I resigned from the club.”
Eldense’s Mauritanian striker, Cheikh Saad, who first brought the alleged scandal to public attention in another radio interview, says he was told players would be paid 30,000 euros each for rigging the game.
“The coach told me to come on as a substitute and I said I didn’t want to. After the game I came close to punching some of my team mates,” Saad said.
There is no indication that Barcelona B players had any involvement with the case. “It’s a very delicate situation but it’s exclusively related to Eldense. Barca B have nothing to do with it and is another victim of this racketeering,” said Barca coach Luis Enrique.
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