Coach, investor of Spanish soccer club arrested over match-fixing

Indo Asian News Service

Madrid, April 4 (IANS) The Spanish police on Tuesday arrested two persons on suspicion of being involved in match-fixing after a third-tier football club in Spain suffered a hardly credible 0-12 thrashing, according to police sources.

The gambling brigade of the Specialised and Violent Crimes Unit (UDEV) of Spain's national police arrested the coach of the Club Deportivo Eldense, Filippo di Pierro, and an Italian investor, Nobile Capuani.

Both are under suspicion of private corruption after allegedly manipulating the record-breaking result of Saturday's game against FC Barcelona B to obtain a financial benefit through betting.

A win for Barcelona was expected, but the 12-0 final score in a match they had led 8-0 at half-time most certainly wasn't.

The final whistle had barely blown when one of the Eldense players, Cheikh Saad publicly denounced that some of his companions had deliberately thrown the game, although he also insisted that Barcelona had not been behind the scandal.

"I don't know what the final score was meant to be, but it was commented that it had to be 8-0 at half time," said Cheikh in the Spanish media.

"Barcelona had nothing to do with it, their players took the chances that they had to score and that is exactly what they have to do," he said. He added that he had been "threatened" not to say anything.

"We are permanently in touch with Italian authorities, who long ago warned us that criminal organizations see sports betting as a great business that is also less risky than other activities," Javier Tebas, president of La Liga, told Spanish newspaper "El Confidencial."

David Aguilar, the president of the club, which is based in the southeastern Spanish town of Elda, told the publication that his players confessed to him that large bets had been placed on the team losing 8-0 by the end of the first half against Barcelona B.

"That is exactly what happened," Aguilar said. "It is a disgrace."

Eldense had an appallingly bad season, with seven coaches and 52 players employed, as well as three presidents passing through the club in less than a year.

Capuani arrived during the Jan. 2017 winter transfer window, promising to inject much-needed cash into the club and bringing with him several Italian players, some of which are suspected of being involved in the scam.

The Italian magnate had been previously expelled from another third-tier club, FC Jumilla, at the end of last season.

He arrived in Spain two years ago following his associate, Ercole di Nicola, an ex-player and former executive who was arrested in Italy for match-fixing.

According to El Confidencial, Capuani allegedly has ties to the Calabrian mafia -- known as the 'Ndrangheta -- and has been accused of heading a ring specialized in illegal bets and other corrupt practices concerning low-level soccer teams.

Meanwhile, Monday saw some of the Eldense players questioned at a police station and the club has announced the sacking of 12 of them, including the four main suspects for throwing Sunday's game.

Eldense play Sabadell in their next game, which Aguillar insists will take place, but it will now take place under the watchful eye of the Spanish football league LFP and the police.

--IANS

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