Segunda División

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Segunda Division game is suspended following chants aimed at Roman Zozulya

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Spain’s Segunda Division match between Albacete and Real Vallecano was suspended at halftime due to chanting aimed at Albacete and Ukranian striker Roman Zozulya on Sunday.

Rayo Vallecano fans shouted “F*@king Nazi” at the forward throughout the first half of the game in Madrid. After a long delay head referee, Jose Antonio Lopez Toca, made the executive decision to suspend the game.

Shortly after the game ended, the league released a statement on the situation, expressing their support over the decision made by Lopez Toca.

“LaLiga expresses its agreement with the decision taken by Jose Antonio Lopez Toca, the referee of the match between Rayo Vallecano and Albacete, to suspend the match after serious insults and threats during the first half against Roman Zozulya, player of the visiting club, and at the request of the two teams in the Vallecas stadium,” the statement read.

“From LaLiga, we continue working to eradicate violence, racism and xenophobia in the stages of Spanish professional football.”

In 2017, Zozulya joined Rayo on loan from Real Betis but was immediately cut from the team after its well-known left-wing, fervid supporters protested the arrival of the now 30-year-old due to his far-right ties, which the player has denied in the past.

“As I stated at my presentation with Real Betis, I’m not linked to any paramilitary or neo-Nazi group,” Zozulya said following his failed move to Rayo in 2017.

Zozulya’s club, Albacete, also released a statement following the game’s suspension.

“With the support of Rayo Vallecano, Albacete and La Liga, the referee has suspended the game in Vallecas,” Albacete said in a short statement.  “This decision was taken with one objective, which is to safeguard the values of our competition and the sport which we all love.”

Zozulya’s last played with the Ukrainian national team on November 2016. In 33 caps for the Main Team, the forward has scored four goals.

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.

Accusations of match-fixing in Spain

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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.