On Saturday, Barcelona’s B team defeated Spanish third-tier team Eldense 12-0.
Since, all hell has broken loose.
The loss – which equalled the third tier’s record defeat – sealed Eldense’s relegation, but that’s the least of their problems. In the days since the match, the club’s Italian manager was arrested for match-fixing, a few players and the club’s general director were detained as well, and accusations of poor sportsmanship flung at the opponent.
Eldense manager Filippo Vito di Pierro was arrested on Monday for fixing the match, after allegations from players, assistant coaches, and even an agent. Eldense defender Emmanuel Mendy came out publicly, telling Spanish radio station Cadena Ser that he heard instructions from the coaching staff to throw the match. Another player Cheikh Saad also said the match was fixed and thusly refused to play.
Under pressure from Mendy’s comments in particular, assistant coach Fran Ruiz was next to go public, saying his orders came from above. Finally, club president David Aguilar told the media he heard from an agent that there was foul play.
Now, di Pierro has come out on record to say that there was no match-fixing involved, instead directing his wrath at Barcelona B. “After the embarrassment of Saturday’s result, I believe our 20 players are clean,” di Pierro told COPE Radio in Spain. “The Barcelona players did not respect the code of honor between teams,” he added, referring to an unofficial mercy rule. “In fact, our players on the bench requested Barcelona to stop [scoring] and they [Barcelona players] would say: ‘I’m sorry, we can’t.’”
Barcelona manager Luis Enrique made a statement about the situation during his most recent media appearance, calling the story “very unfortunate” and saying, “In other countries we have seen similar situations and they are very unfortunate. Too many people are trying to benefit from football.”
Club executive Nobile Capuani was also taken into custody, along with another coach and a pair of players, including 20-year-old on-loan Valencia midfielder Mike Fernandez.