Why match-fixing could liven up La Liga

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If a former English FA bigwig had revealed he had been repeatedly contacted over allegations of match-fixing in the Championship, but with no resulting action taken, then the national press would have leapt up and down on the story in bullish delight. And then blamed Fabio Capello for the whole affair.

This is largely what has happened in Spain, this week. Aside from the all-important part about the press giving a flying fig. And the Fabio Capello bit.

Instead, the Spanish papers have chosen to largely ignore some alarming news concerning match-rigging that broke this week, preferring the less taxing task of debating which of David Villa and Fernando Llorente was the real heroe of Tuesday’s win over Scotland.

Last Thursday, the Spanish League’s Social Discipline Commission announced it was closing an appeal from Cádiz and Betis asking the governing body to act on allegations of match-fixing leveled against Hércules. In doing so it followed a path taken by the Spanish FA’s Appeal’s Committee which had also rejected the case of the two clubs.

These were allegations that broke in August and came from recorded phone conversations from Hércules owner, Enrique Ortiz - under official investigation for another non-footballing affair - suggesting that the Alicante side’s ascent from la Segunda, last season, may have been assisted somewhat by buying off opposition players.

The two clubs appealing to the League were the ones who could have benefited from any subsequent punishment handed out to Hércules if the promotion and relegation issues of last season were reversed.

However, after what appears to be a half-hearted poke of an investigation involving speaking to some of those named in the transcripts of the leaked taped conversations, the League has said there is no case to answer and packed up and went home, despite the remarkable testimony of one of its former Vice-Presidents, Javier Tebas.

In a written declaration to the Commission - parts of which were reprinted in Tuesday’s edition of Marca - Javier Tebas revealed that he had personally had “a number of conversations during 2009/10 with a number of clubs and sporting institutions of the Liga Adelante (second division) and the Spanish Footballers Association relating to the existence of contacts with people who were acting on behalf of, or in the interests of the Hércules group, along with players from other team with the objective of predetermining the result of the games of said team.”

Tebas was therefore surprised to hear the news that the latest case involving Hércules had been so readily passed over, claim Marca who spoke to the former league chief.

I still remember when some presidents called me scandalised about having received proposals to change results,” recalled Tebar. “But, when it comes down to it, when they have resolved their problem, they lose their memory. In the end, the investigations are ‘light’, knowing no-one wants a conclusion to be reached, so they are run in this manner.”

Although the 13-page report delivered by the Commission acknowledged that all match-fixing allegations continue to harm the integrity of the Spanish game, the decision to close this particular case combined with the damning indictment from Tebar suggests that there is no great desire to do take any action when evidence does come their way.

So this got LLL considering a better use of the Commission’s time in future. Perhaps its members could cut out the pretense of fair play in the lower leagues and reveal the results of each of the games in the second division, for example, every weekend with a pithy cinema-style review to help the blog decide whether to watch them or not?

For instance “Betis 2-2 Celta Vigo - a must see. Gripping action and a shocking twist at the end.” Or “Rayo Vallecano 0-0 Xerez. Don’t be put off by the scoreline. One for the purists."

At least it would finally see the League’s big wigs doing something of some value for supporters...