Several Arrests Made in Connection With La Liga Match-Fixing Scandal
Spanish police announced on Tuesday that they are planning to make a series of arrests in connection with match-fixing in each of the country’s top three soccer divisions. The group of those expected to be arrested consists of current and former La Liga players. La Liga is the top soccer division in Spain.
In a statement, the police said,
“Police agents are carrying out an operation against an organization allegedly involved in match-fixing in professional football. 11 people are expected to be detained, including current and former players from the first division, as well as club presidents and executives. The investigation has allowed us to corroborate that those investigated reached agreements with different players to “fix” at least three games relating to the Spanish first, second, and third divisions. One of those games fixed, the second division game, had a strong impact on bets, with betting companies registering a volume of money 14 times higher than usual for that division.”
According to Servimedia, Samu Saiz and Borja Fernandez are among the players that were arrested. Fernandez retired from playing earlier this month, while Saiz plays for Leeds United of the Championship in the second tier of English soccer. Saiz was a Getafe player last year.
Saiz and Fernandez were among those reportedly involved in a criminal organization accused of money laundering, corruption, and other crimes. Former Real Madrid and Spain international Raul Bravo is accused of being in charge of the group’s operations, while Carlos Aranda and Inigo Lopez were also arrested. The latter 2 have ties to Real Madrid, as well. Agustin Lasaosa, the president of Huesca, is also reportedly implicated in the scandal.
Lesser Clubs Involved
While none of La Liga’s most prestigious clubs (Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid) are reportedly heavily involved, there are two players among those arrested that do play for sides currently in the Spanish top flight.
There were curiosities surrounding a match between Nastic Tarragona and SD Huesca in the Spanish second division in May of 2018 that raised potential red flags. Huesca, who had already earned promotion into the top flight heading into the match, lost 1-0 at the hands of Nastic, who was fighting to stay in the second division. There were large bets placed on Nastic to win the game coming from Asia and Ukraine, which sounded alarms.
Around 30 betting companies decided to suspend all betting quotes for the match after other large bets were detected. Those bets were wagering on a Nastic victory and a 0-0 score at halftime, both of which wound up coming true.
Francesco Baranca, the general director of an anti-match fixing organization known as Federbet, confirmed in May of 2018 that “there was very unusual betting activity made” during the match and that a minimum of €10 million was made on that game by itself.
La Liga put anti-match fixing regulations into place five years ago in an attempt to protect the integrity of the sport and the league. The league said,
“La Liga continues to work to prevent, monitor, investigate, and report any possible match-fixing of a game with the aim to keeping the game clean.”
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