Match-fixing: Spanish police swoop on ‘criminal’ football gang

May 29 – Spanish football has rocked by a damaging new match-fixing scandal with a number of arrests of current and former players and club executives.

The arrests include that of former Real Madrid and Spain defender Raúl Bravo after what is being reported as a swoop against an alleged criminal ring that is said to include several La Liga players and club officials.

Spanish newspaper El Pais reports that Leeds United forward Samuel Saiz is among those detained, having spent the season on loan with La Liga side Getafe. But Spanish radio station COPE gives a different version saying that while Saiz is being investigated, he has not been formally arrested.

“The police action follows complaints about possible match-fixing in a May 2018 match from La Liga to the Spanish authorities,” said a La Liga spokesman.

“During the 2018/19 season La Liga has filed eight complaints with the general commissioner of the judicial police for alleged acts related to match-fixing in lower divisions of Spanish football and low-profile friendlies played between foreign clubs in Spain.”

“We have also sent alerts to the general directorate of gaming on 18 football matches for possible identification and sanction of players from lower divisions who could have bet on their competition.”

Among other La Liga players reported to have been detain in morning raids are Valladolid’s Borja Fernández and Carlos Aranda, a Real Madrid youth product who retired in 2017.

Police sources told agencies that all of those arrested are accused of belonging to a criminal organisation in connection with the alleged fixing of at least 10 La Liga matches.

The investigation was apparently prompted by suspicious betting patterns surrounding a second division match a year ago, when Huesca hosted Nàstic in the penultimate game of the 2017-18 season.

Huesca had already earned promotion to La Liga’s top flight, while Nàstic were battling to avoid relegation to Spain’s third tier.  Matchfixing watchdogs say at least €10 million was won on the result of the match.

Huesca president Agustín Lasaosa is among those being held, along with a former club player and the team’s doctor according to local reports.

It is not yet known which other matches are being investigated, but they are reported to have taken place in the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons.

“This police operation demonstrates the effectiveness of integrity protection systems implemented by La Liga to protect the cleanliness of all competitions in Spanish football,” said La Liga whose president Javier Tebas has frequently warned against the scourge of matchfixing

“La Liga continues to fight to eradicate any scourge against fair play in Spanish football.”

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