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Feb 27, 2013

Rayo deny involvement in fan arrests

Rayo Vallecano have officially denied that the club are behind the arrests of 13 of their 'Bukaneros' fans in connection with the floodlight sabotage which caused the postponement of September's La Liga game against Real Madrid.

The match was called off at the last minute after cables were cut to the 57 floodlights at Estadio Vallecas, and replayed without incident 24 hours later.

At the time Rayo president Raul Martin Presa described the incident as "football terrorism" and hinted that the club's ultras, who have been heavily critical of his handling of the club, were responsible. It was subsequently reported in Spain that disgruntled former club employees, not fans, were the main suspects for the crime.

The surprise arrests were made in a number of police swoops around Madrid on Monday and Tuesday. On Tuesday afternoon, Madrid regional government spokesperson Cristina Cifuentes tweeted that the police had acted on an official complaint made by Rayo's board. However, the club then quickly denied this in an official statement.

"The only formal complaint made by Rayo Vallecano was presented on the day of the unfortunate incident which caused the postponement of the game against Real Madrid," the statement read. "Rayo Vallecano remains at the disposition of the relevant authorities and offers any help and collaboration necessary to clear up the facts of that case. The police and the judicial authorities will be the ones who determine who was responsible. We regret deeply the misunderstanding due to the tweet published on [Fuentes'] account, which said these arrests were a consequence of complaints made by Rayo directors."

Rayo's famously left-leaning 'Bukaneros' have been heavily involved in recent anti-austerity and anti-government protests in Madrid. They have also been critical of the Madrid regional government and the police's heavy-handed response to these protests, often via banners held up during games at the Estado Vallecas.

They said in a statement on Tuesday that they were being targeted because of this, not the floodlight sabotage.

"It is not a surprise that, after the protests on the streets of Madrid on February 23, the police have again tried to criminalise social movements in the city," the fans said. "The arrests have put our group in the spotlight once again."

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