MADRID (REUTERS) – Spain’s professional league (LFP) has identified a suspected betting fraud involving a “phantom” match between Spanish side Ponferradina and Portuguese club Freamunde which never took place.
The friendly between the two lower league teams was supposed to have been played on Monday at 10am local time despite the fact that Freamunde played a Portuguese League Cup match the previous evening, the LFP said.
Anomalies were detected by Federbet, a non-profit organisation which tracks illegal practices in sports betting, and brought to the league’s attention.
“The LFP’s integrity unit contacted Ponferradina officials who confirmed that the supposed match never took place and that, therefore, it was a fraudulent manipulation of those who placed bets and the sports betting firms,” the LFP said.
The LFP, which has sought to show it is taking a tough stance against match-fixing, will be informing soccer’s European and world governing bodies, UEFA and FIFA, and the police of the apparent fraud.
“This is not a case of ‘match-fixing’ as such but is one of financial fraud and the LFP’s commitment to legal betting and the protection of clubs makes it obligatory to denounce this case publicly,” the league said.
Soccer has been increasingly plagued by match-fixers in recent years and corruption linked to Asian betting syndicates and organised crime is considered a genuine threat to the world’s most popular sport.