Spanish football clubs, players embroiled in match-fixing probe

At least 11 players from LaLiga and the Segunda Division, the top two divisions of Spanish club football, have reportedly been arrested or placed under investigation today (Tuesday) on suspicion of match-fixing offences.

Spanish news agency EFE, citing National Police sources, said that the probe dubbed ‘Operación Oikos’ commenced early this morning with raids involving those said to be involved in a scheme to gain financial benefits from betting on the outcome of fixed games.

Spanish newspaper Marca added that at least three LaLiga matches are being investigated, in addition to second- and third-tier games. EFE said Agustín Lasaosa, president of SD Huesca and Juan Carlos Galindo Lanuza, head of medical services at the club relegated from LaLiga at the end of the 2018-19 season, were among those arrested.

Former Real Madrid defender Raúl Bravo was also arrested and is said to be the ringleader of the gang. EFE also named Borja Fernández, who recently retired after playing the last two seasons at LaLiga club Real Valladolid, as one of those arrested today.

“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,” Pedro Camarero, a lawyer for Huesca, said. “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.”

The operation has reportedly been triggered by a complaint lodged by LaLiga in May 2018 concerning alleged irregularities detected in a match between Huesca and Nástic de Tarragona. EFE added that a recent LaLiga game between Valladolid and Valencia is among those being investigated.

The game on May 18 saw Valladolid lose 2-0 at home, a victory for Valencia that secured the club fourth place in LaLiga and qualification for the Uefa Champions League. Valencia has strongly denied any wrongdoing in relation to the match.

A club statement read: “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 rumour or unfounded news that tries to relate our club to the aforementioned subject.”

A LaLiga statement reported by the BBC, read: “The police action follows complaints about possible match-fixing in a May 2018 match from LaLiga to the Spanish authorities. During the 2018-19 season LaLiga has filed eight complaints with the general commissioner of the judicial police for alleged acts related to match-fixing in lower divisions of Spanish football and low-profile friendlies played between foreign clubs in Spain.

“We have also sent alerts to the general directorate of gaming on 18 football matches for possible identification and sanction of players from lower divisions who could have bet on their competition. We thank the 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 football matches.”