Friday, October 30, 2020

Anti-corruption probe uncovers match-fixing evidence in Italian Serie A football league


A SPANISH inquiry into football corruption has spread to Italy with allegations of match fixing in Serie A. 

An unnamed man in Malaga is thought to be at the centre of the case, according to Spain’s National Police. 

In the second phase of Operation Oikos National Police officers, in a joint investigation with the central operational service in Rome of the Polizia Di Stato of Italy and coordinated by EUROPOL, have arrested a total of 14 people in Spain. 

In addition, two searches have been carried out in Italy which show the alleged involvement of the detainees in crimes of corruption between individuals, money laundering and unfair administration. During the investigation, several attempts to rig matches in Italian Serie A were detected. 

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In addition, the relationship that the alleged leaders of the organisation had with an illegal gambling house in Italy whose clients were people with a high purchasing power, including Italian Serie A football players, was verified. 

Operation Oikos, directed against an organisation of “sports fixers” in professional football, has been carried out in two phases. The first phase in May ended with the arrest of 11 people and the collection of numerous documents related to the illegal activity.  

Specifically, the agents found several handwritten sheets containing an operation to collect, distribute, return and deliver funds for the ‘conditioning’ of a sporting result in Spain’s second division. 

During the course of the investigation, evidence appeared that the leaders of the organisation had a connection with an illegal bookmaker in Italy. In addition, several attempts to rig Serie A matches were detected after an investigation was launched by the Italian Polizia di Stato with the support of the Anti-Mafia Prosecutor’s Office. 

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 The investigation by the Italian authorities focused on an Italian individual who was directly linked to the principal under investigation in the Oikos operation. 

The investigated person, who made many trips from Rome to Malaga to develop his criminal activity, managed a gambling hall in the Italian city of Tivoli that was closely related to an illegal gambling house. There, allegedly, top-level sportsmen and women made clandestine bets. 

The joint operation carried out by the National Police and the central operational service in Rome of the Polizia di Stato, coordinated by EUROPOL, resulted in 14 people being arrested in Spain and two searches carried out in Italy. These searches demonstrate the alleged involvement of those arrested in crimes of corruption between individuals, money laundering and unfair administration. 

One of the searches was carried out in the main office of the Italian being investigated, where various documents were found that directly linked him to the main person being investigated in the operation in Spain. 

During the first phase of Operation OIKOS, he detained people were accused of “private corruption”, unfair administration and money laundering linked to the payment of bribes linked to the promotion play-offs to the Spanish first division.  

Police found several handwritten sheets that contained details of the collection, distribution, return and delivery of funds to fix a match in the second division.  

Police said in a statement that “after analysing the documentation, investigators found that a football club handed over cash to the staff of another team after their victory in a game held in June 2017.”  

This is thought to be a reference to Catalan club Reus Deportiu who beat Real Vallolidad 2-0 on the penultimate day of the 2016-2017 season.  

It is alleged that players from the winning team were then paid a ‘premium’ by SD Huesca as it ensured the latter team a spot in the play offs.  

This is the first time that so-called ‘third party premiums’ have been judicially investigated. Reus, who allegedly received it, did not have anything to play for in that game, while Real Vallolidad and SAD Huesca both had a chance of the play offs.  

Reus won 2-0 when the odds for that match were 5-1 against them. Huesca finished the league in sixth position on goal difference over Vallolidad, so they played the promotion phase.  

Huesca lost in the semifinals against Getafe.  

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One of the first to be arrested was Francisco Javier Pichu Atienza, who currently plays for Real Zaragoza and in 2017 was a player of Reus.   

Iñigo López, former player of Deportivo de La Coruña, Huesca and Granada, among others, has also been arrested.  



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