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Apr 24, 2013

Tebas keen to clean up Spanish football

Newly-elected Spanish league president Javier Tebas says his priority will be to root out match-fixing in the Spanish game.

Stories of brown envelopes and 'incentive' payments have swirled around La Liga for years, and accusations of dodgy dealings were particularly plentiful during the 2011-12 relegation battle.

Tebas, who won the election to become the new head of the Lige Futbol Profesional [LFP] last week, told Marca that all involved in Spanish football must do much more to combat the issue.

"The most important thing is the subject of match-fixing," he said. "If there can be rotten games, it means the competition is not in order. From the league to the media we are not supporting this as it needs to be. These are also the complaints of [Michel] Platini and [Sepp] Blatter, not just mine."

The sports lawyer said he would pass any evidence given to him onto the legal authorities to investigate.

"The problem [so far] has been the gap between legal proof and the real truth," he said. "In La Liga we need to make a further step in denouncing what is going on. It is isolated incidents, but it happens.

"If I am told that something could have happened I will pass it on to the police and the government's anti-corruption investigators. We will do everything necessary to support their actions and to uncover these cases."

Tebas suggested that a culture of cover-up and silence on these matters must be ended.

"More than one player [has told me about fixed games]," he said. "I have spoken with the AFE [players union] and with club directors. There is a type of corporate defence, a misunderstood feeling of companionship.

"I will not put a gun to anyone's head to get them to make an accusation, but if they come forward and talk I would appreciate it. We must get rid of this. The clubs agree with me on this."

Tebas accedes to the job after more than two decades working in Spanish football, during which he has helped many clubs through 'Ley Concursal' administration procedures and been LFP vice-president on three occasions. He has also recently represented the 'G30' group of clubs, whose majority voting power has solidified La Liga's TV revenue status quo.

The Costa Rican denied he unduly favoured the big two of Barcelona and Real Madrid against 'rebels' including Atletico Madrid and Sevilla.

"If La Liga does not try and walk hand in hand with two of the biggest clubs in the world... but the same thing happens with Sevilla, Atletico or Valencia," he said. "Since we signed the agreement in November 2010, we have advanced a lot. Before there was a lot of mistrust between the clubs, now we debate things, we believe what we say, and we fulfil what we sign."

Tebas said he would also be working hard to try and ensure that no La Liga clubs went out of business in the coming years, but he could not guarantee that all would survive the current financial crisis.

"When you go into administration, that can happen," he said. "Some clubs may not be able to fulfil the agreement they signed with creditors, and that means liquidation.

"Xerez, for example, is in a difficult situation. With Deportivo [la Coruna], on the other hand, I am very hopeful because there is a willingness to work together, although they remain in intensive care. In general though, Spanish football is ill. We have had 24 Ley Concursal processes, so we have nothing to shout about. But the Ley Concursal is helping those who are ill to get cured."

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