Football: Man United's Herrera says 'conscience clear' over match-fixing probe

Manchester United's Ander Herrera (left) is challenged by Stoke City's Marc Wilson during their English Premier League football match at Old Trafford in Manchester, northern England on Dec 2, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
Manchester United's Ander Herrera (left) is challenged by Stoke City's Marc Wilson during their English Premier League football match at Old Trafford in Manchester, northern England on Dec 2, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera declared that his conscience was "totally clear" on Tuesday after he was one of 41 people named in a Spanish match-fixing probe.

Spanish prosecutors allege that Herrera was one of 18 Real Zaragoza players who gave hundreds of thousands of euros in cash to Levante players to let them win a May 2011 league game they needed to win to avoid relegation.

Herrera, 25, played in the match in question, which Zaragoza won 2-1. He moved to Athletic Bilbao later that year before joining United last June.

Writing on Facebook, he said: "In an on-going legal process involving Real Zaragoza (Spain), the club I was honoured to play (for) from 12 until 22 years of age, there are 41 people cited as possible witnesses, of which I am one. I have never had and will never have anything to do with manipulating match results.

"If I am ever called to testify in any judicial hearing, I'll be happy to attend, as my conscience is totally clear. I love football and I believe in fair play, both on and off the pitch."

According to Spanish state prosecutors, Zaragoza paid a total of 965,000 euros (S$1.6 million) into the bank accounts of its coaches, staff and players, who gave the money to Levante's players as a "bribe".

Zaragoza's directors, coaches and captains "agreed... with the consent of the rest of the players, to fix the match", the prosecutors alleged.

Zaragoza won the match 2-1 against Levante, who had already escaped relegation that season, with two goals from their then-captain Gabi Fernandez.

Spanish sports daily Marca said on Monday that if the case goes to trial and the accused are found guilty, they could face jail sentences of up to four years.

Japan's Mexican coach Javier Aguirre, then coach of Zaragoza, and Swansea City's Ecuadorian winger Jefferson Montero, who played for Levante at the time, are among the people named in the investigation.