It’s the last thing a professional footballer wants to be embroiled in.
A significant investigation into potential match fixing in La Liga’s top two divisions has seen a raft of players arrested; a group which includes Leeds United’s Samuel Saiz.
Details at this moment in time are sketchy, although the investigation is said to revolve around a specified match from La Liga 2 in May 2018 involving Huesca, who were already promoted to the top flight, and relegation-threatened Nastic de Tarragona, who went on to win 1-0.
La Liga officials have confirmed that a number of current and former players, as well as club officials, have been detained after a series of suspect betting patterns were revealed by bookmakers.
They utilise ‘integrity protection systems’, which involves software-led analysis of bets placed during a given timeframe, to detect any suspicious activity that may arise. In doing do, La Liga have said they have reported eight suspect cases – relating directly to match fixing – to Spanish police, with 18 players said to have placed bets on the outcomes of the matches detailed.
“During the 2018/19 season, La Liga 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 international friendlies played in Spain,” La Liga representatives wrote in a statement.
“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.
“La Liga continues to fight to eradicate any scourge against fair play in Spanish football.”
The league’s officials have not revealed the names of anybody under suspicion, but the Spanish newspaper El Mundo has and they have identified Saiz and former Real Madrid man Raul Bravo as the ringleader behind the operation.
All Bets Are Off
There was a full police operation in Spain that took place on Tuesday morning at 8:30am. A number of properties have been searched including the headquarters of Huesca, who have recently been relegated from La Liga.
Police officials were witnessed leaving with a number of documents, while the club’s president, Agustin Lasaosa, as reportedly arrested as well.
A spokesperson for the National Police in Spain said:
“I can confirm a police operation against match-fixing is ongoing.
“I cannot confirm any of the names of the detainees that are circulating in the Spanish press at this moment in time. That is because the operation is still ongoing.”
As well as the match fixing accusations, it is believed a number of arrests have been made for related money laundering offences.
The alarms were raised during that Huesca vs Nastic match when a catalogue of bets were placed on a 0-0 half-time draw followed by an away win – the outcome that occurred. Some 30 bookmakers and betting firms had to suspend their markets, such was the volume of the wagers, with Federbet’s Francesco Baranco detailing the money movements as ‘mad’.
A large percentage of those bets were placed in Asia and the Ukraine, which has only heightened the fears that match fixing was the cause.