Police in Spain have arrested several current and former soccer players along with club executives as they investigate match-fixing in the country’s top two professional divisions.
In a statement, La Liga said it filed a complaint with Spanish authorities about possible match-fixing in a May 2018 game and also identified eight instances of possible match-fixing this past season “in lower divisions of Spanish football and low-profile friendlies played between foreign clubs in Spain."
La Liga is specifically concerned about several games played by Real Valladolid, according to Agence France-Presse. That club is majority-owned by former Brazilian football star Ronaldo. Among the contests was a 2-0 loss to Valencia on May 18, the final day of the season, a game Valencia needed to win to ensure a spot in the Champions League.
“Bets on the game were more plentiful than usual,” the Spanish newspaper Marca reported, and Valencia’s two goals were the result of some shaky defensive play by the home side Valladolid:
Spanish authorities also have detained Agustin Lasaosa, the president of SD Huesca, which had a one-season stay in the country’s top flight in 2018-19 but was relegated back to the second division after finishing 19th out of 20 teams. A source told AFP that the Huesca interest stems from its time in the second division.
Both Marca and AFP say Spanish police have targeted a number of current and former players, including former Real Madrid player Raul Bravo, who is described as the “ringleader” of the match-fixing scheme; Borja Fernandez, who played the last two seasons for Valladolid before recently retiring (his final game was the aforementioned contest against Valencia, in which he started and was the team’s captain); journeyman player Carlos Aranda, who retired in 2015; Samuel Saiz, who was loaned to Getafe this past season from England’s Leeds United; and Inigo Lopez Montana, who played for two second-division Spanish teams this past season.
La Liga President Javier Tebas told Marca that the league has been investigating the match-fixing allegations for more than a year.
“It really hurts, because it affects a club I love, but the most important thing is to end corruption in football,” said Tebas, who was president of Huesca in the 1990s.
In February 2018, Spanish police announced they had broken up a match-fixing scheme involving third- and fourth-division matches, with the money allegedly wagered in Chinese betting markets.
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