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Jan 15, 2013

Spanish league chief hints at match-fixing

Spanish league vice-president Javier Tebas has admitted that La Liga games have been fixed in the past and says the authorities are currently working hard to find the proof to punish those involved.

A number of unexpected results towards the end of last season caused eyebrows to be raised in Spain, with both then Racing Santander manager Alvaro Cervera and Granada president Quique Pina claiming Real Zaragoza's escape from relegation - which included four wins in their last four games - had been suspicious.

Tebas, who at the time raised his own doubts that every game in the top flight in recent seasons had been clean, told Spanish radio show Al Primer Toque on Monday night that the authorities were currently trying to gather evidence to prove games had been fixed.

"Games have been bought," Tebas said. "There is the real truth and then legal truth. Match-fixing exists, but you need to be able to prove it to be able to impose a punishment. We are trying to uncover the cheats because there are some, and even if there is just one, for me that is a scandal."

Tebas said that it was likely that illegal gambling syndicates had influenced results in La Liga, as they had elsewhere in Europe.

"UEFA has said that 0.7% of games are bought," he said. "In our football the same thing could happen as went on in Italy. I believe that there will be a scandal some day, because it happens. Could there be the same percentage of games bought here as UEFA say? There could be."

As well as being LFP vice-president, Tebas also represents the so-called G30 group of clubs (the big two plus most Segunda Division clubs) in TV revenue sharing negotiations against a group of rebels (including Atletico Madrid, Valencia, Sevilla, Athletic Bilbao, Espanyol and Real Betis) who would like the revenues to be shared more equally.

He defended the current situation where Madrid and Barcelona between them take about half the money available, and said it was currently changing for the better.

"Real Madrid and Barca do not earn €140 million a year," Tebas said. "They earn €130 million. Besides this €130 million, they give €5 million to help clubs who are relegated and another €5 million to the G30. We are going to be at a difference of approximately 1:6, where the club who earns the least in Primera Division gets €20 million."

The sports lawyer also said he had "nothing to hide" about his role with the G30.

"In 2007 the clubs decided unexpectedly to pay me a sum for management of the contracts with Mediapro and, if my memory is not mistaken, they would distribute it in five years," he said. "The total per year is €30,000."

Tebas also claimed that the drop in attendances at Spanish league games this season was down to high ticket prices, not the controversial kick-off times which have seen weekend games spread across four evenings.

"I believe clubs must change their ticket pricing policies," he said. "But anyway, there have just been 3.5% fewer spectators in Primera Division stadiums compared with last year. In the Segunda Division, the percentage is 8%."

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