Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
Real Betis has joined Osasuna and Espanyol in denying claims that its players were involved in match-fixing during the 2013/ 14 La Liga football season. Spain’s Liga de Fútbol Profesional (LFP) has yet to confirm an investigation into the allegations, which began to emerge through Spanish media reports last weekend.
‘Real Betis has not the slightest knowledge of, nor has it ever participated in, any act – however small – that would threaten the integrity of the competition’, read a statement from the club. Real Betis said that it had contacted the LFP about the allegations, and a meeting will take place with the LFP to discuss them.
Osasuna’s President, Luis Sabalza, denied allegations that his players had been involved in match fixing during a 17 February press conference. “The club is not aware of any matches being bought”, said Sabalza. However, the club confirmed that it has been summoned to appear before a Pamplona court, after an audit by the LFP revealed that €2.42 million had disappeared from the club’s accounts, and is currently unaccounted for.
“We want to make it absolutely clear that RCD Espanyol had no involvement in the manipulation of matches or in any irregularity”, said Espanyol Vice President, Rafael Entrena, in a statement. “We defend the purity of competition and sportsmanship”. The club said that it would work with any prosecutor appointed to investigate the allegations, and with sporting bodies, if it is proven that the allegations have enough merit to warrant investigation.
Media reports alleged that Osasuna and Espanyol had agreed to draw a game on the final day of the 2013/14 season, which ended 1-1. Espanyol were subsequently relegated. Further reports suggested that that the LFP is also considering examining Real Betis’ 4-3 win over Real Valladolid, who were also relegated. Valladolid’s captain, Jésus Rueda, told the club’s internet site that if the allegations are proven, then justice needs to be served against the perpetrators. “Justice needs to be applied and if there is a crime, that these issues are eradicated from football”, he said.
In a separate investigation, prosecutors in Valencia have named 42 individuals in an inquiry into alleged fixing of a 2011 La Liga match, where Real Zaragoza beat Levante 2-1 to save the club from relegation. The inquiry was brought forward by the Spanish state prosecutor.