Players nabbed in Spain fixing probe

Huesca president Agustin Lasaosa getting out of a car after his arrest yesterday by Spanish police investigating an alleged match-fixing ring in the Spanish football leagues. PHOTO: EPA-EFE
Huesca president Agustin Lasaosa getting out of a car after his arrest yesterday by Spanish police investigating an alleged match-fixing ring in the Spanish football leagues. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MADRID • Spanish police yesterday arrested several footballers, former players and club executives as part of a match-fixing investigation.

Daily El Pais revealed former player Raul Bravo, who played for Real Madrid and was an ex-Spain international; Borja Fernandez, who retired earlier this month following the end of Valladolid's LaLiga season; and ex-Sevilla player Carlos Aranda were among those caught in the raid.

Others snared include Samuel Saiz, who had been on a season-long loan to Getafe from English Championship side Leeds, and Agustin Lasaosa, the president of recently relegated Huesca.

Juan Carlos Galindo Lanuza, the club's chief of medical staff, was also taken in, with police saying the arrested Huesca officials "are suspected of having taken part in match-fixing when they were in the second division".

According to a police source, the suspects are all accused of belonging to a criminal gang, corruption and money laundering.

Pedro Camarero, a lawyer acting for Huesca, told reporters various people at the club had been detained on a warrant.

He said: "We haven't been able to speak to the president yet. However, he will be able to give opportune explanations in due course.

"Internally within the club, we are not worried and are at the disposal of whatever the courts request of us. For now, we do not know how things will develop."

LaLiga president Javier Tebas, himself a former Huesca president, told daily Marca that the operation had originated from a complaint made by Spain's top flight and the investigation had been over a year in the making.

The Spaniard said: "It really hurts, because it affects a club I love, but the most important thing is to end corruption in football."

The Spanish league also issued a statement, saying: "We want to thank the National Police for the extraordinary work done to dismantle what appears to be an organised criminal group dedicated to obtaining economic benefits through the predetermination of matches."

Spanish media have reported LaLiga and LaLiga 2 matches in the recently-concluded season and previous one were allegedly fixed, and the probe had been triggered following Huesca's 1-0 loss to Nastic on May 27 last year, with "irregular betting patterns" over the half-time and full-time scores spotted.

The Daily Mail also reported an influx of bets coming from Ukraine and Asia had aroused suspicions in the match, with Huesca having sealed promotion to LaLiga, while Nastic were fighting to stay up.

Match-fixing has been a constant issue in Spanish football. In February last year, at least 24 people were arrested for allegedly rigging games in the lower leagues.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, DPA, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 29, 2019, with the headline 'Players nabbed in Spain fixing probe'. Print Edition | Subscribe