AROUND a dozen arrests were made in Spain on Tuesday, as part of a probe into an alleged match-fixing network in Spanish football.
Among those detained are former Real Madrid and Spain international Raúl Bravo, suspected of being the ringleader, as well as Agustín Lasaosa, chairman of the Huesca club.
A La Liga Segunda (second division) match, between that team and Club Gimnàstic de Tarragona, known as Nàstic, sparked the probe.
Also, a La Liga clash under investigation featured Valladolid and Valencia on the last day of this season, which saw the latter qualify for the Champions League.
Strange bets placed by at least one Valladolid player aroused suspicions. But sources stressed that no Valencia players were being investigated.
Among those arrested was Borja Fernández, a Valladolid player who retired from professional play after the match against Valencia. He skippered the side, spending 84 minutes on the pitch.
A tweet from the Onda Cero radio network said: “Arrested!!! National Police officers take away Borja Fernández, who just retired from Real Valladolid, in a raid against match-fixing.”
The other detainees included Carlos Aranda, who has played for a number of Spain’s top-division La Liga teams,
Íñigo López Montaña, from Deportivo de La Coruña, along with a former Huesca player, and Juan Carlos Galindo Lanuza, head of Huesca’s medical services.
Police carried out nine searches, throughout Huesca, Madrid, Valladolid, Málaga and A Coruña, although the main focus of the probe was in the first of those cities.
A large number of police officers descended on the headquarters of the Sociedad Deportiva Huesca club, first thing on Tuesday morning.
However, the club’s lawyer insisted that there was “calm”, as well as “uncertainty about what could happen”.
He added: “There are no concerns at the club, and we are at the disposal of the courts for whatever they request from us.”
The suspects are accused of reaching deals to fix three games, in the Primera, Segunda and Tercera divisions.
According to police sources, “the Third Division (Tercera) game was unsuccessful, prompting the players involved to “compensate their losses” with another fix.
The Huesca-Nàstic game, which aroused initial suspicion, took place on 27th May, 2018. During the match, betting was suspended at 30 of the 57 biggest gaming services, after irregular patterns had been detected.
Bets, amounting to 14 times bigger than the norm in this category, were being placed on a 0-0 scoreline at half-time, and, eventually, a victory for the visiting team. Both predictions came true.
At the time, Nàstic were fighting to avoid relegation, and were 29 points short of Huesca in the league. The latter team, meanwhile, had been promoted to the Primera on their previous outing.
According to police sources, the match-rigging comprised a number of stages. Firstly, the network would choose the games, being played, preferably, at the beginning or end of the season.
The agreed bets were combined, which meant they did not just involve the final score, but other elements of the game as well, such as corners, fouls, plus yellow or cards… “in order to increase the margins of the winnings notably”.
One player from each of the teams in question would be approached, preferably the captain. Once the fix was agreed, cash payments would be made before and after the game.
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