MELCHOR SÁIZ-PARDO / JUAN CANO
Wednesday, 1 February 2023, 16:21
Europol and Spain's National Police have struck a joint blow against match-fixing. Investigators have dismantled a network that operated in football matches in the National League of Gibraltar and the League of Andorra, the Ministry of the Interior said on Tuesday 31 January.
'Operation Conifer' has so far resulted in another 23 arrests in Badajoz, Cadiz, Ciudad Real, Cordoba, Tenerife and Ceuta, in addition to the 21 arrests made in the first phase of the raid last November.
Some 30 football matches are currently being investigated, the vast majority of which took place between April and June last year, from the First, Second and Third Federations, formerly Segunda B and Tercera, which are semi-professional, as well as matches involving teams from the principality of the Pyrenees and Gibraltar. Of the 44 arrested in the two phases of the operation, 20 are footballers, almost all of them from the lower categories (twelve in November and eight in the last few days).
Among those arrested, there is only one player, from Barcelona's youth academy, who did play some 40 matches for another top team. The profits generated by the scheme are estimated at more than half a million euros, with members of the network placing online bets on fixed matches, earning between 4,000 and 24,000 euros.
The investigation began after the arrests and searches carried out in the first phase of the operation, in which 21 people were arrested in the provinces of Cadiz, Badajoz, Seville and Almeria for allegedly belonging to a criminal organisation, corruption between private individuals in the field of sport and defrauding gambling operators. The analysis of the data allowed the investigators to delve deeper into the modus operandi of the organisation, identifying both footballers who had participated in match-fixing and people who were in charge of opening online gambling accounts and bank accounts through which the network's money circulated.
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