Manchester United player Ander Herrera between 38 players connected with match-fixing scandal
Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera is one of 38 players that are named in case of match-fixing scandal in La Liga match between Real Zaragoza and Levante on the last day of 2010/2011 season. Atletico Madrid captain Gabi and Swansea City player Jefferson Montero, were players in Zaragoza same as Herrera at that time. The coach Javier Aguirre, who is the actual coach of Japanese national team, is also between accused in this case, as so the sporting director and the President of Zaragoza, plus the club itself.
The accusations are for the final match in season 2011, when Real Zaragoza won 2:1 against Levante as guests and avoided relegation. The players from both teams are defendants because Levante players have received a total of €965,000 in cash to deliberately lose the game, while many took money from Zaragoza player's accounts. Gabi, the current captain of Spanish league champions Atletico Madrid, denied that the match was fixed and said that the payment was a bonus and he returned it in cash when the club asked for it back a few days later. He was a double scorer on that match and also said that he did what the club asked from him. If players are found guilty in this case, they could be punished with one to six-year bans from football or even a jail sentence. The judge will decide whether to open a formal judicial investigation.
However, the 25-year-old Spaniard wrote on his Facebook account:
"I have never had and will never have anything to do with manipulating match results. If I am ever called to testify in any judicial hearing, I'll be happy to attend, as my conscience is clear."
He added: "I love football and I believe in fair play, both on and off the pitch."
It's a long list of match-fixing scandals in football and penalties and sanctions for that over the past 10 years. One of the biggest European scandals was connected with the referee Robert Hoyzer in Germany. Juventus were stripped of their titles in 2004/05 and 2005/06 and four Italian clubs were banned from European club competitions in 2006/07. Some teams from the Czech Republic had points deducted in 2006, Boavista were relegated to the second Portuguese League in 2007, Polish Zaglebie Lubin were relegated to the second division in 2008.
Macedonian club FC Pobeda Prilep are still serving the 8-year ban from all European competition after were involved in match-fixing scandal in Champions League game with Armenian side Pyunik. Tampere United was indefinitely suspended from Finnish football, while Greek Giant Olympiakos were excluded from UEFA Europa League in 2011. The Asian football have also match-fixing experience that resulted with seven years jail sentence for over 40 people in South Korea in 2011.
UEFA President Michel Platini has stressed the determination to eliminate what he called the "scourge" of match-fixing:
"Match-fixing is not a fantasy; it is a reality, a sad and serious reality," said Mr Platini at the inaugural meeting of the UEFA working group on match-fixing in Nyon. The UEFA President urged full cooperation between the football authorities, state authorities and law enforcement agencies in the fight against match-fixing, emphasising that sports bodies cannot conduct the fight alone.
"Since my election in 2007, I have not stopped calling for help in the fight against this danger," said the UEFA President.
"UEFA and its member associations are aware of the fact that the football authorities do not have the means to deal with the problem of match-fixing themselves," he added. "We are doing our utmost, believe me, but our powers and perogatives are limited, because we are not judges or prosecutors, nor are we police officers.
"It is only by working hand in hand with government authorities and law enforcement bodies that we can eradicate this scourge once and for all."
UEFA has made the fight against match-fixing one of its key priorities.
"UEFA remains vigilant and aware of the fact that match-fixing is the greatest danger that threatens our sport," the UEFA President continued. "Without its unpredictable character sport loses its charm, spirit and profound sense. The heart of football, the game and its soul are affected."