Former footballer from Malaga among those arrested in Spanish match-fixing investigation

Raúl Bravo.
Raúl Bravo. / REUTERS
  • Carlos Aranda and several others are accused of corruption and money-laundering

A police investigation into match-fixing in Spanish football has led to the detention of several First and Second Division players, the president of Huesca football club, Agustín Lasaosa, and the club's head of medical services, Juan Carlos Galindo Lanuza. Among the former players is Malaga-born Carlos Aranda.

The footballers accused of alleged corruption in sport, fraud and money laundering include former Real Madrid and international player Raúl Bravo (who also has links with Malaga); the recently-retired former captain of Valladolid, Borja Fernández; ex-Huesca player Íñigo López, who is currently with Deportivo; and another former Huesca player, Samu Saiz, who is now with Getafe.

Aranda and Bravo, who refused to answers questions in court on Thursday, were remanded in custody but granted bail pending payment of 100,000 euros each.

The match-fixing investigation originated with the Second Division Huesca-Gimnástic game last season (0-1), which was reported by La Liga a year ago. In the case of the Huesca-Nàstic match on 27 May 2018, it was the betting system that raised suspicions, with 14 times as much money as usual being placed on a Second division match. People were also betting on a 0-0 score at half time and a final win for Nàstic, who took a decisive step to salvation against a Huesca side who had earned promotion to Primera.

Different currencies

More than half the major betting firms around the world suspended operations after they also detected that large bets were being placed in Ukrainian and Chinese currencies. The police say that those involved in fixing received about 100,000 euros for every match.

Carlos Aranda

Carlos Aranda / EFE

However, the police also investigated the Valladolid-Valencia match on the final day of the La Liga this year on 18 May, which ended 0-2 in favour of the visiting team and their qualification for the Champions League. The decision to investigate that match came after the arrest of Borja Fernández, for whom this was his final game before retirement.

Valencia's two goals came after several defensive errors by Valladolid, who were already guaranteed a survival, while the other team needed to win to return to the Champions League. However, the clubs themselves are not believed to have been involved.

The police say they are looking at the possibility that at least one Valladolid player might have sold the game to obtain money through betting companies. Sources close to the investigation stress that neither Valencia nor its players are involved in the alleged fixing of the match with Valladolid, and both clubs have warned that they will take legal action against anyone who publicly associates them with corruption or makes claims to damage their image.

Carlos Aranda, who has played for eight First Division teams, could face jail if found guilty. He is suspected of taking part in match-fixing together with his friend Raúl Bravo. The police believe Aranda has close links with two betting companies. He is also under investigation for an alleged money-laundering case in Malaga, which is still ongong.

After La Liga reported the Huesca-Nàstic match, the police in Malaga provided a court in Huesca with all the information they had about Aranda.

The investigation is also looking at a match last season between Third Division teams Sariñena and Cariñena, as they believe it may have been subject to a failed attempt at fixing.