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May 3, 2013

Levante will support match-fix probe

Levante president Quique Catalan and defender Juanfran say they will both support any enquiry into possible match-fixing in Levante's recent 4-0 home defeat by Deportivo La Coruna.

The Spanish media has reported that Levante midfielder Jose Barkero accused four team-mates of not showing their usual commitment after their side conceded three first-half goals in the game on April 14. While Barkero this week publicly withdrew that claim, the Liga de Futbol Profesional has reportedly opened an investigation into the match.

Catalan told a press conference on Thursday that he did not believe anything untoward had happened, but no player proven to have shown such dishonesty would ever play for the club again.

"We believe fully in the professionalism and honesty of all the players in our squad," he said. "We will fight to the death to find out the truth, which could be that something happened, or that nothing happened. Because if anyone is losing with all this, it is the club and its fans. Any player who has done anything like this, cannot play for Levante."

Spanish radio show El Larguero claimed on Thursday night that in the run-up to the game in question an unnamed Levante player called a player from another team involved in the relegation battle to ask how much money they were willing to pay to ensure full commitment over the 90 minutes, as an offer to allow Depor to win had already been received.

Catalan said he had discussed the situation with LFP president Javier Tebas, who on acceding to the job last week said he was determined to root out a culture of match-fixing in Spanish football, and Levante would help with an investigation by Spain's football or legal authorities.

"I have spoken with Javier Tebas," he said. "We are at the disposition of the LFP, RFEF [Spanish FA] and ordinary courts to clear up any matter. Levante stand for fair play and fight for transparency in the competition."

Left-back Juanfran, who played against Deportivo but has not featured since, also welcomed any opportunity to clear up a situation which had damaged morale at the club.

"The LFP looking into these things looks good to me because that way everything will be cleaned up," he said. "Lots of things have been said. Some true and others lies. The group has been damaged, but yesterday we wiped the slate clean and it is all okay now. The group is fine. Barkero's apology was missing, and he made it with his heart, which is what counts."

Juanfran, who turns 37 in July, said he hoped to continue at Levante next season, but his only preoccupation at the moment was gaining the few more points needed to secure the club's Primera Division status for another season.

"I want to stay [at the club] and I have no doubt about that," he said. "But the truth is that I am not concerned with that at the moment. Now we just want to concentrate on sporting matters. The future is what is important, to make sure we secure our safety soon."

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