La Liga chief Javier Tebas: Players could go to prison for match-fixing

La Liga president Javier Tebas says players involved in match-fixing could go to jail.

The Spanish courts are currently investigating a number of match-fixing cases, with a judge in Valencia hearing evidence from players involved in a Levante vs. Real Zaragoza game from 2011.

Former Osasuna president Miguel Archanco and director Txuma Peralta have already spent some nights in police custody during an investigation into a series of matches from the final weeks of the 2013-14 campaign.

Asked in an interview with El Confidencial whether he can envision any players ending up in prison, Tebas -- a lawyer by trade -- said it was possible, and would be deserved in cases where real damage had been done.

"Yes, the same as I could see the club director who recently went to prison," Tebas said. "I do not like anyone losing their freedom, but if they commit serious crimes, they must go to prison. We must always remember the damage they have caused and the victims involved, who are entitled to their compensation."

The hearings into an alleged fix in the Levante vs. Real Zaragoza game have continued this week, with former Zaragoza players Braulio Nobrega and Carlos Diogo, as well as ex-Levante men Christian Stuani, Xavi Torres and Hector Rodas, being asked about the movement of money into and out of their bank accounts around the time of the match in question.

Some 42 players, coaches and directors have been named in the official investigators complaint.

The next session is set for May 4, when Atletico Madrid captain Gabi, formerly of Zaragoza, is to give evidence. Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera, who also played for Zaragoza in that game, is set to appear in court in a later session as well.

The case has been taken by Spain's anti-corruption authorities, who maintain that Zaragoza's 2-1 win at Levante's Ciutat de Valencia stadium -- which brought three points that saved the Aragon club from relegation that season -- had been agreed in advance.

The official complaint claims a total of €965,000 changed hands, with bank records showing players from Zaragoza were heavily involved.

AS reports the case is being taken in line with the La Liga authorities and the Spanish government in looking to stamp out the previously accepted practices -- in some quarters -- of paying incentive payments and agreeing results in advance when relegation matters are being decided.

Under the legislation, jail terms of six months to four years are possible, while individual players, coaches or club officials found guilty could also be banned from football for one to six years. The clubs involved could face sanctions such as points deductions or forced relegations if past bad behaviour is proven.