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Spanish league president says player revealed match-fixing

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MADRID (AP) Spanish league president Javier Tebas testified in a match-fixing trial on Thursday, saying it was a former player who told him a result had been fixed.

The case involves a top-tier game between Levante and Zaragoza at the end of the 2010-11 season. Prosecutors say there is evidence 965,000 euros (nearly $1 million) was paid to Levante’s players to lose the match in the final round of the season. Zaragoza won 2-1 to secure its spot in the first division, with Deportivo La Coruna being demoted.

[ MORE: La Liga scores, schedule ]

Tebas did not reveal which player made the allegation but said he played for Zaragoza and didn’t want to be linked to the investigation out of fear of retaliation from other players. Tebas also said the unidentified player was a client of his law firm at the time.

Tebas, who became the league’s president in 2013, said he warned then-Levante president Quico Catalan, who later also testified and said he did not recall receiving a call from Tebas about the alleged match-fixing attempt.

Last week, lawyers for Zaragoza and some players unsuccessfully called for a mistrial claiming Tebas broke lawyer-client privilege when the league brought the allegation to authorities.

More than 40 people have been accused and have appeared before a judge in Valencia, including dozens of players and former Mexico coach Javier Aguirre, who managed Zaragoza at the time.

They could face two years in prison and a six-year ban from soccer if found guilty. They have all denied any wrongdoing.

Among the 36 players accused are Ander Herrera, now with Paris Saint-Germain; former Leicester midfielder Vicente Iborra; former Atletico Madrid captain Gabi Fernandez; River Plate midfielder Leonardo Ponzio; Serbian defender Ivan Obradovic; Lazio forward Felipe Caicedo; Itailan defender Maurizio Lanzaro; and Uruguay striker Cristhian Stuani.

Prosecutors said players on both teams were aware of the match-fixing. They said they found evidence the money was transferred to Levante players after analyzing tax reports and banking transactions at the time.

A lower court had shelved the case but it was reopened last year after an appeal by prosecutors in Valencia, where Levante is based and where the match was played.

Even if found guilty, it’s unlikely that those being accused would face actual prison time because sentences of two years or less for first-time offenders are often suspended in Spain.

Zaragoza returned to the second division in 2014. Levante is currently in Spain’s top league.

Ex-Mexico coach denies involvement in match-fixing in Spain

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MADRID (AP) — Former Mexico coach Javier Aguirre has denied taking money that was allegedly used to fix the result of a Spanish league game eight years ago.

Aguirre testified Thursday in the match-fixing trial involving a game between Levante and Zaragoza at the end of the 2010-11 season.

Aguirre, Zaragoza’s coach at the time, is one of more than 40 people who could face two years in prison and a six-year ban from soccer if found guilty.

Prosecutors said there is evidence that 965,000 euros (nearly $1 million) was paid to Zaragoza’s squad and later transferred to Levante’s players to lose the match in the final round of the season.

Zaragoza won 2-1 to avoid relegation. Deportivo La Coruna was demoted as a result.

Former Zaragoza officials said the money was paid to motivate players, not fix the result of the game.

Aguirre and some of the players who have testified denied Zaragoza’s version that the money was paid as an incentive.

Aguirre said he received a deposit without his consent and returned the money to the club because it was not part of his contract.

Some of the players said they were asked as a favor to the club to withdraw the money deposited into their accounts and return it in cash, which they said they did. A few players said they kept the deposits because they believed the money was owed to them.

Among the 36 players accused are Ander Herrera, now with Paris Saint-Germain; former Leicester midfielder Vicente Iborra; former Atletico Madrid captain Gabi Fernandez; River Plate midfielder Leonardo Ponzio; Serbian defender Ivan Obradovic; Lazio forward Felipe Caicedo; Itailan defender Maurizio Lanzaro; and Uruguay striker Cristhian Stuani.

Herrera, Ponzio and Fernandez were among the players who testified on Thursday.

Former Levante player Xavi Torres was asked why he went more than two months without making any cash withdrawals following the match against Zaragoza. The midfielder said he didn’t need to make any withdrawals because he was on vacation, travelling to different countries and at his parents’ home.

Torres, who played the whole match against Zaragoza, denied the result was fixed.

“You can see during the match that we created several scoring opportunities and tried to win,” he said.

Prosecutors said players on both teams were aware of the alleged match-fixing. They said they found evidence the money was transferred to Levante players after analyzing tax reports and banking transactions at the time.

A lower court had shelved the case but it was reopened last year after an appeal by prosecutors in Valencia, where Levante is based and where the match was played.

Even if found guilty, it’s unlikely that those being accused would face actual prison time because sentences of two years or less for first-time offenders are often suspended in Spain.

Zaragoza returned to the second division in 2014. Levante is currently in Spain’s top league.

Transfer rumor roundup: Man City joins race for Spanish playmaker

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Manchester City is now looking to win the race to sign former Barcelona academy winger Dani Olmo after the Spaniard shined brighter than most in the nation’s championship run at the U-21 EUROs.

They’ll have to beat out a host of clubs including Barca, with Manchester United, Bayer Leverkusen, Wolfsburg, and Real Madrid also said to be on the laundry list of clubs eyeing up the Dinamo Zagreb 21-year-old.

[ MORE: Herrera to PSG ]

Olmo just posted a 12-goal, nine-assist season with the Croatian side, including two and four in the Europa League. He got on the board against Benfica, Anderlecht, and Fenerbahce amongst others, so not like he’s picking on the minnows.

The Catalan youngster started his academy career at Espanyol before spending seven seasons with Barcelona’s youth set-up.

Plus if you go to the 1:12 mark of this video, you can watch him dribble through fog to score (although perhaps fog is to the advantage of the ball handler?).

Spanish striker Alvaro Vazquez is off to Canada, but for which team?

Reports say the 28-year-old has an offer from one of the three Major League Soccer teams north of the border, and is currently there.

Vazquez scored 10 goals in Spain’s second flight last season for Real Zaragoza, and is two seasons removed from a pair of productive seasons in the top flight with Getafe.

Mainly a center forward, Vazquez can also handle being deployed out wide and was on loan with Toronto FC’s Pozuelo when the pair were with Swansea City in 2013-14.

Some internet sleuths are positing a reunion due to the following Instagram comments:

Spanish report: Manchester United’s Herrera implicated in 2011 La Liga match fix

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Marca report raises loads of questions regarding a match between Real Zaragoza and Levante on the final day of the 2011 season, and one of those queries involves a current Manchester United player.

Ander Herrera, the high-profile Red Devils transfer from Athletic Bilbao last season, was 22 at the time and a member of Zaragoza, which entered the final weekend in the drop zone, while Levante was 12th yet by no means safe in a tight battle for La Liga safety.

[ UEFA: Champions League Tuesday preview ]

The claims are that Zaragoza players were given money to pass along to Levante players to throw the match, and Herrera is being dragged into the mix as someone who was paid (but returned the money). Zaragoza rolled in the match.

Some punishments for match-fixing in Spain include jail time, so this is theoretically significant.

From 101greatgoals:

Zaragoza went into the final day in danger of relegation and it is alleged that 12 Levante players were each paid €120,000 to throw the game by their Real Zaragoza counterparts.

Twelve Zaragoza player are alleged to have received €120,000 in their account, which they were to pass on individually to the Levante opposition.

It is suggested in Marca today that Herrera is now under investigation for receiving funds from ex-Real Zaragoza president Agapito Iglesias but not declaring it to the Anti-Corruption unit, despite returning the cash.

Ander Herrera started for Real Zaargoza on May 21, 2011 against Levante and the current Manchester United midfielder played 72 minutes of the match.

And if Herrera was involved in any sort of fix other than “bonus money” to win the game, it’s obviously not a good development. Atletico Madrid captain Gabi admitted to receiving money while then on-loan to Zaragoza.

The game chart says the Aragonian side was dominant in the match. Check this in-game screengrab from Eurosport, specifically the first few lines:

source:

 

Yep, that’s two goals ruled out for offsides before Zaragoza scored one that counted (in the opposite direction of the alleged fix). Without looking at the video, it’s impossible to know whether the players were legit offsides, and there’s no way for officials to fix a free kick goal — once it’s awarded — is there?

It’s not a new story, but Herrera’s name being involved is a development and makes it an interesting story to follow. Still it’s hard to conclusively say anything.

Done Deal: Transfer market action from August 28

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Every day between now and the end of the European transfer window, we’ll detail the day’s notable transfer activity in our Done Deal report. On Wednesday, there were no significant move, though the increase in finalized deals as opposed to pure loans hints activity’s picking up before Monday’s transfer deadline:

ENGLAND

Chelsea – It finally happened. Willian’s transfer, previously thought to be in the hands of Tottenham, was finalized by long-time pursuers Chelsea. The final cost? A reported €35 million. Quite a fee for somebody who’s unlikely to crack José Mourinho’s first choice XI.

Fulham – Ever heard of Marcus Bettinelli? Accrington Stanley fans have, now. As of Wednesday, the 21-year-old goalkeeper is on loan to the League Two side.

Manchester United – Angelo Henriquez, much-discussed when he was bought from Universidad de Chile in January, will spend the year at Real Zaragoza in Spain after his loan deal was confirmed today.

SPAIN

Espanyol – Whether Wakazo Mubarek is a steal or a bust in all in his hands. Or, at his feet. The Ghanianan international has the talent to become a star for Russian Premier League side Rubin Kazan, having been loaned from Espanyol on Wednesday. At 23- years old, Mubarek could also fail to adjust, but after playing regularly for Espanyol last season, Mubarek should find regular playing time in Tatarstan.

GERMANY

Braunschweig – After making only one appearance in the 2.Bundesliga last year, midfielder Björn Kluft was loaned back to the second division, set to spend this year at Sandhausen.

ITALY

Atalanta – Luca Milesi, a 20-year-old defender who failed to make a league appearance for the club last year, was loaned out to Benevento, set to complete the season in the Italian third division.

FRANCE

Rennes – The club secured two loan deals on Wednesday, both sending players away from the club. 22-year-old attacker Frank Julienne, who spent last season at third-tier side Vannes, will spend 2013-14 at Lyon-Duhcère in the fourth division. Also, Dmitri Foulquier, a 20-year-old defender who made 17 league appearances over the last two seasons, has been loaned to Granada, giving the French U-17 and U-19 international experience in Spain’s top flight.