Several soccer players arrested in Spain for alleged match-fixing


An archive image of Raúl Bravo during a press conference as he announced his departure from Cordoba FC, in Cordoba, Spain, Aug. 14, 2014. EFE/FILE/SALAS

MADRID.- At least 11 soccer players from Spain’s first and second divisions have been arrested or were under investigation on suspicion of having taken part in match-fixing, National Police sources told EFE on Tuesday.

The sources said raids had begun early in the morning in an operation against alleged soccer match-fixing that had been set up in a bid to obtain financial benefits from betting on the outcome of games.

«The decision to make the arrests was taken by Court Number 5 of Huesca and we have to abide by the decision of the court,» said Pedro Camarero, lawyer of Huesca soccer club, who confirmed the arrests and probe. «For the moment, we do not know what is going to happen, we have not been able to talk to the president who, as soon as possible, will give the appropriate explanations,» Camarero told EFE.

Agustín Lasaosa, president of the Huesca and Juan Carlos Galindo Lanuza, head of the medical services at the club, were among those arrested.

Huesca played in Spain’s top tier until being relegated at the end of the season.

Former Real Madrid defender Raul Bravo, the alleged ringleader of the gang involved in the match-fixing and betting, was among those arrested.

Another alleged member of the gang who was arrested was Borja Fernandez, who recently retired after playing the last two seasons at Real Valladolid, where he was one of the team’s captains.

Javier Tebas, President of LaLiga, told Spain’s leading sports newspaper Marca that the operation could have been triggered by a complaint lodged by his organization.

«This operation comes from a LaLiga complaint, we have been working on this for a long time,» he said.

The complaint was lodged in May 2018 arising from alleged irregularities detected in a match between Huesca against Nástic de Tarragona which allegedly generated irregular betting patterns.

Also, sources close to the investigation told EFE that a match between Valladolid and Valencia was among those being investigated over suspicions it might have been rigged.

The top tier game was played May 18 at Valladolid’s José Zorrilla stadium in which the home team lost 0-2 to Valencia, which earned a fourth-place Champions League berth as a result, to the detriment of Getafe.

Valencia issued a statement denouncing the claim and saying it was «alien to any alleged match-fixing» and that it would take «legal action» against anyone who spread «any rumor or unfounded news» that linked the club to illegal behavior.

«In light of the news that appeared on Tuesday regarding the alleged involvement of players and leaders of other clubs in illegal betting related to matches, Valencia CF, as an entity totally oblivious to this matter, wishes to warn publicly that it will undertake the appropriate legal action, with all the consequences that derive from it, against anyone who disseminates any rumor or unfounded news that tries to relate our club to the aforementioned subject,» the club said in a statement.

Police sources told EFE that 11 arrests were contemplated and that agents belonging to its Unit of Specialized and Violent Crime had initiated several sorties, one of them on Huesca’s headquarters, which were raided in the early morning.

Camarero said he was aware club records would be seized to aid the investigation.

Lasaosa (60) became president of Huesca in May 2017.

Carlos Aranda, a former player of several First Division teams, was also among those arrested, sources said.

All the detainees were being held on suspicion of forming part of a criminal organization, corruption and money laundering, police said.

Raúl Bravo (38) became part of Real Madrid’s youth team in 1997 and was promoted to the first team in 2003, remaining there until 2007.

He retired as a professional player in 2017 after having played with several teams in the Greek soccer leagues.

Iñigo López Montaña, who was also arrested, had formed part of Atletico Madrid’s youth academy.

The Interior Ministry spokesperson for the central region of Castilla y León, Mercedes Martín, called for «prudence and discretion» so that the National Police could get to the bottom of the alleged match-fixing.

Martín told journalists gathered in the city of León that the operation was being directed from police headquarters in Madrid and said the probe required discretion so that investigations were not hindered.

«We in Castilla y León are collaborating and we are not going to go into who has been involved or detained. That is something that we will not enter into out of respect for the investigation.»

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