Posted on: November 30, 2022, 09:23h. 

Last updated on: November 30, 2022, 12:55h.

Efforts to bring a halt to match-fixing in sports continue on an international level. Notably, Spain is in the middle of a fight against rigged matches in tennis and soccer. It has already taken measures to lock up criminals for their involvement, and has extended its efforts over the past couple of weeks.

UD Tamaraceite
Spanish soccer team UD Tamaraceite poses for a photo. The team may have gotten assistance through match-fixing. (Image: UD Tamaraceite)

On Tuesday, the Spanish National Police launched the second phase of an operation against match-fixing within the scope of the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF, for its Spanish acronym). It also involves the Gibraltar National League, with players in both leagues accused of manipulating games.

Across the country, police have arrested 15 people, including some players. As reported by the police on their social media channels, the operation is being carried out with the collaboration of Europol and Interpol, with a warrant issued by a court judge in southern Spain.

More Chips Fall

The first phase of the operation culminated last June with the arrest of 21 people. Subsequent investigations led to an investigation of six more, including RFEF soccer players. These players allegedly scammed more than €500,000 (US$519,000) by helping throw matches.

The investigation, which the Central Unit for Specialized and Violent Crime of the Police carried out, began as a result of a complaint filed by La Liga regarding a match between CD Gerena and Conil CF in May 2021. The police unit then requested collaboration from the General Directorate for the Regulation of Gambling (DGOJ, for its Spanish acronym), Europol, and Interpol to examine the allegations.

As reported by El Confidencial, approximately 20 people face charges, adding their names to the 27 who were already under investigation by prosecutors in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, a small city in Cadiz, Spain. They are allegedly part of a criminal organization that helped rig more than 30 matches at various levels of Spanish soccer, as well as in the Gibraltar National League.

The majority of those just arrested live in the province of Cadiz. Investigations have also found traces of the organization in Badajoz, Ceuta, Ciudad Real, and Cordoba, according to the media outlet.

The latest investigations focused on active players who actively fixed games on the field. It also looked at various individuals who sold their personal data to the criminal organization.

The leaders of that organization then opened “clean” accounts with different online sportsbooks. The defendants traded their names and IDs in exchange for €100 (US$103.81) and a small piece of the action.

Uncovering the Source

Police suspect an unidentified defender from Real Balompédica Linense in Cadiz of manipulating a match between Linense and FC Andorra at the close of the 2021-22 First RFEF season in May. Mathematically, FC Andorra came into the game ready to move up to the Second Division SmartBank League, while Linense needed three points to avoid relegation. Linense won that match 3-1, altering the trajectory for both teams.

As reported by El Confidencial, the first of Linense’s goals came after an obvious “error” by the Andorran goalkeeper early in the first period. The agents of the National Police Center for Integrity in Betting and Sports (Cenpida, for its Spanish acronym) found conversations that confirmed the Linense player provided information to the organized criminal gang about secret agreements to throw the game.

Four other players also face charges of match-fixing. One allegedly rigged a match between his team, UD Montijo, and UD Tamaraceite that ended with a lopsided 7-1 win for Tamaraceite.

The result of that game had already provoked suspicions of manipulation. The case took on new life after La Liga raised a red flag following the outcome.

There is also questionable activity surrounding another match. Last season, CD Gerena allegedly agreed to pay €15,000 (US$15,571) to CD Utrera if the latter were to beat a team from Cordoba. The match ended in a draw. But Cenpida investigators had recorded the conversations, which was enough to press charges.