Javier Tebas, head of professional football in Spain, stated on the BBC’s World Football show that at least eight matches in La Liga and Segunda División, Spain’s top two leagues, are fixed every season. Tebas said he believed the problems were coming from an “international mafia”, and called for lifetime bans for players found to be involved in manipulating matches. If a player is not involved, but knows about the match-fixing and does not report it to authorities, that player will face a three-year ban from football. Serious punishments are necessary, Tebas believes, because “if we do not eradicate now, it will become like the Wild West with no laws, no control.”
This is not the first time in recent months that claims of match-fixing in Spain have surfaced. Last May, the Spanish Football League opened investigations into the possibility of a match between Levante and Deportivo La Coruna was rigged. Augusto Cesar Lendoiro, president of Deportivo La Coruna, denied his side were involved in fixing the game, but also claimed that match-fixing was widespread in Spain.
Italy, of course, are the nation most (in)famous for match-fixing, with the 2006 Calciopoli scandal still fresh in most fans’ minds. Just last month, El Salvador banned 14 players for life for their involvement in rigging matches. Now Spain’s problems are surfacing. As international betting syndicates continue to grow and strengthen, it seems we’ll be hearing more and more about fixed matches throughout the world.