Twenty-one people have been arrested as part of a police operation against football match fixing across Spain. Police sources say that most of the raids were carried out in the autonomous communities of Andalusia and Extremadura.
Members of the Unit of Specialised and Violent Crimes (UDEV) as well as EU’s law enforcement agency Europol took part in “Operation Cortés” the second phase of a wider investigation against match fixing launched in February this year.
Police sources say that the matches had been fixed for games in the men’s fourth tier (Tercera division) and the highest level of league competition for Spanish women’s football. Among the detainees, there are three female first division players as well as Tercera players and a referee. The arrests took place in Madrid, Badajoz, Valencia, Seville, Cádiz, Murcia and Guadalajara. It is alleged that those involved could have charged as much as €50,000 in some cases. The illegal organisation is believed to have ties with China.
A full-scale investigation known as “Operation Pizarro” was carried into match fixing in the third (Segunda B) and fourth tier (Tercera) divisions in the Spanish football league in February with police forces focusing their efforts in the provinces of Barcelona, Albacete and Badajoz. Officials also carried out searches in offices and sports facilities in clubs throughout Spain. More than 200 agents took part in the operation and over thirty arrests were made. The investigation began after it was discovered that players had been instructed to fake situations during football matches such as penalties and corners.
Members of UDEV in collaboration with members of the Technological Investigation Unit and Europol, initiated the operation in February to thwart the alleged plot, which is believed to have been led by two ex-football players along with a number of other individuals who acted as intermediaries. The organisation is also believed to have ties with other countries specifically China, where the illegal operation had contacts via a betting website. The plot could have been in operation for years according to police sources. During “Operation Pizarro” police investigated, specifically, matches played in the Third Division throughout this season and the previous season, although it has also focused on some Segunda B matches.