Spanish league president says player revealed match-fixing

Javier Tebas, president of La Liga, attends a conference about speed and innovation in football on Thursday in Madrid. (AFP)
Updated 13 September 2019

Spanish league president says player revealed match-fixing

MADRID: Spanish league president Javier Tebas testified in a match-fixing trial on Thursday, saying it was a former player who told him a result had been fixed.

The case involves a top-tier game between Levante and Zaragoza at the end of the 2010-11 season. Prosecutors say there is evidence €965,000 (nearly $1 million) was paid to Levante’s players to lose the match in the final round of the season. Zaragoza won 2-1 to secure their spot in the first division, with Deportivo La Coruña being demoted.

Tebas did not reveal which player made the allegation but said he played for Zaragoza and didn’t want to be linked to the investigation out of fear of retaliation from other players. Tebas also said the unidentified player was a client of his law firm at the time.

Tebas, who became the league’s president in 2013, said he warned then-Levante president Quico Catalán, who later also testified and said he did not recall receiving a call from Tebas about the alleged match-fixing attempt.

Last week, lawyers for Zaragoza and some players unsuccessfully called for a mistrial claiming Tebas broke lawyer-client privilege when the league brought the allegation to authorities.

Wrongdoing

More than 40 people have been accused and have appeared before a judge in Valencia, including dozens of players and former México coach Javier Aguirre, who managed Zaragoza at the time.

They could face two years in prison and a six-year ban from soccer if found guilty. They have all denied any wrongdoing.

Among the 36 players accused are Ander Herrera, now with Paris Saint-Germain; former Leicester midfielder Vicente Iborra; former Atlético Madrid captain Gabi Fernández; River Plate midfielder Leonardo Ponzio; Serbian defender Ivan Obradovic; Lazio forward Felipe Caicedo; Itailan defender Maurizio Lanzaro; and Uruguay striker Cristhian Stuani.

Prosecutors said players on both teams were aware of the match-fixing. They said they found evidence the money was transferred to Levante players after analyzing tax reports and banking transactions at the time.

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 2014. Levante is currently in Spain’s top league.


Golf has big future in Saudi Arabia, says Prince Khalid

Updated 23 min 10 sec ago

Golf has big future in Saudi Arabia, says Prince Khalid

  • ‘There are many opportunities for Saudis to have a career in the golf industry’

JEDDAH: Prince Khalid bin Saud Al-Faisal has been visible in golf for as long as anyone can remember — even more so now in his role as adviser to the Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi Chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan.

Arab News caught up with Prince Khalid on Saturday, and the lifelong golfer with a single-digit handicap talked about the future of golf and its potential as an industry in Saudi Arabia in the buildup to the Saudi International.

The European Tour event is taking place this week at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club with a star-studded field of 132 players vying for a prize fund of $3.5 million.

Prince Khalid said the two high-profile tournaments Saudi Arabia is hosting — the Saudi International and Saudi Ladies Championship in March — will show that golf can be a good career choice for women as well as men.

“There are many opportunities for Saudis to have a career in the golf industry. The golf industry encompasses hospitality, management, agronomy, real estate and a host of other professions as well as being a golf professional, both touring and teaching,” Prince Khalid said.

“With the ambitious plans for the Saudi game, supported by King Salman and with special support from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, golf has a bright future, and should provide many job and career opportunities for Saudis, both male and female,” he said.

“With the support given to all sports by our leadership, Saudis now have the option to take up sports as a profession, and build a life and career out of it.

With the ambitious plans for the Saudi game, supported by King Salman and with special support from Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, golf has a bright future, and should provide many job and career opportunities for Saudis, both male and female.

Prince Khalid bin Saud Al-Faisal

“We have a national ladies team, alongside our junior and men’s teams, which is a wonderful development.

“The Saudi Golf Federation and Golf Saudi under the direction of Yasir Al-Rumayyan and his right-hand man Majed Al-Sorour have developed wonderful plans for golf courses, academies, training programs and entertainment golf that will accelerate the spread of the sport in Saudi Arabia.”

“In addition to this, we have the professional men’s and ladies tournaments, and the prize money is an indication of the support given to golf,” Prince Khalid added.

The prince, son of the late Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal, thanked the crown prince for the support he has given to sports in general and to the “sport I live most in particular.”

Prince Khalid’s love affair with golf started late in his teen years.

“I started playing golf consistently when I was in my early 20s. Golf is a wonderful sport. It is one of the most difficult sports as well as one of the most rewarding, and can be played competitively and for fun with family and friends,” he said.