Vicente Iborra

Photo by Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

High-profile match-fixing trial underway in Spain

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MADRID (AP) Spain’s most high-profile match-fixing soccer trial got underway Tuesday with more than 30 players appearing before a judge.

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Players, coaches and team officials were in court in Valencia to defend themselves in the case involving a top-tier Spanish league game between Levante and Zaragoza at the end of the 2010-11 season.

More than 40 people have been accused, including former Mexico coach Javier Aguirre, who managed Zaragoza at the time.

They potentially face two years in prison and a six-year soccer ban if found guilty.

Among the 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; and Uruguay striker Cristhian Stuani.

Some of the players have asked not to be in court for the entire duration of the trial, which is expected to last until the end of September.

Lawyers for Zaragoza and some players called for a mistrial on Tuesday because current Spanish league president Javier Tebas was a lawyer to one of the Zaragoza players at the time.

They claimed Tebas broke lawyer-client privilege because it was the league that later made the accusation that led to the trial.

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Prosecutors cited evidence that Zaragoza paid around $1 million to Levante’s players to lose a match to Zaragoza.

Zaragoza’s 2-1 victory in the final round of the season allowed the team to avoid relegation. Levante was already safe.

Prosecutors said the money allegedly given to Levante players was divided among the squad. Prosecutors contend that players in both teams were aware of the match-fixing.

Prosecutors said they found evidence the money was transferred to Levante players after analyzing tax reports and banking transactions at the time. Ahead of the trial, all the defendants denied any wrongdoing.

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 2013-14. Levante is currently in Spain’s top tier.

Brighton and Hove Albion 0-2 Leicester City: Late breakthrough

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  • Iborra scores in 2nd-straight PL match
  • Schmeichel saves Murray penalty
  • Vardy scores 15th of season
  • Foxes three points off seventh

Vicente Iborra and Jamie Vardy scored second half goals to lead Leicester City past Brighton and Hove Albion 2-0 at the Amex Stadium on Saturday.

Brighton is 13th, six points clear of 18th place Southampton.

Vardy reached the 15-goal plateau for the second time as a Premier League player, and has 57 in four seasons.

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Essentially chance-free for the first half hour, Glenn Murray missed a chance to make it 1-0 when he took Davy Propper‘s pass and avoided a fairly-yawning cage.

The second half started brightly, with Jamie Vardy missing a Leicester bid before his goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel denied Pascal Gross at the other end.

Out of nothing, a penalty to Brighton. Jose Izquierdo drew it with a bit of embellishment, and perhaps it was justice when Murray’s penalty kick was saved by Schmeichel.

And Iborra found the back of the goal off a Ben Chilwell cross.

It wouldn’t be an easy finish, as Wilfred Ndidi picked up a second yellow card with minutes to play, though Demarai Gray cued up Vardy for his 15th goal of the season.

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Leicester agree fee for Sevilla’s Vicente Iborra

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Leicester City have agreed a fee with Sevilla for their captain Vicente Iborra.

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The midfielder, 29, is due to travel to Leicester for a medical and to agree personal terms with the transfer fee reported to be in the region of $16.1 million.

In a statement released on their website, Sevilla confirmed that a fee has been agreed and Iborra was flying to England with the La Liga side seeming to bid an emotional farewell to the towering Spaniard.

Sevilla FC and Leicester City FC have reached an agreement on the transfer of Vicente Iborra to the British side, at the expense of the Valencian player traveling to Leicester to undergo medical examination and sign his contract. Once the operation is concluded, he will return to Seville to publicly bid farewell to the fans.

If everything goes as expected, Vicente Iborra will leave Nervión after four seasons of delivery and commitment, wearing the armband as captain in his last campaign. Iborra has always shown an exemplary behavior and has earned the unanimous love and respect of all Sevillians. Three Europa League titles, 172 games and 30 goals are the numbers of a colossus that beyond his achievements will remain in the memory for his leadership on and off the field, as well as for the dignity that he gave the captains armband of Sevilla FC whenever he played.

Iborra is a defensive midfielder who is powerful in the air and can control the tempo of a game. With Wilfred Ndidi and Danny Drinkwater already in the Foxes midfield, Iborra will add plenty more steel if he agrees to join Leicester, plus he has also scored 26 goals over the past three seasons in all competitions and has a knack of timing his runs to perfection.

Following Sevilla’s defeat to the Foxes in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 last season, many of Sevilla’s players made remarks about the atmosphere at the King Power Stadium in the second leg where Leicester sealed their passage to the quarterfinals.

With that fresh in his mind Iborra will be attracted to Leicester, but giving up UCL action with Sevilla for a likely midtable scrap with Leicester seems like a bit of an odd decision for a player who has won three Europa League titles and has driven Sevilla on from midfield in recent seasons.

That said, with Sevilla appointing Eduardo Berizzo as their new manager perhaps Iborra isn’t in his plans and whatever way you slice it up, this seems like a massive coup for Leicester.

The Foxes are aiming to rebuild under Craig Shakespeare after he was handed the managers job on a permanent position following an impressive finish to last season which secured their status in the PL, and a top 10 finish in the PL plus a cup run would be a good campaign next season.