The goal that revealed the latest match-fixing plot | Sports

This May 5, 2021, there were a few days left to end the season in Group X of the third division of Spanish football and almost everything had already been decided. One of the remaining matches was to be played the same day, at seven o’clock in the evening, by two teams which at that time were no longer playing anything, CD Gerena and Conil CF. The date was at the premiere stage. On the morning of that day, almost 10 hours before the start of the game and with the bets at three to one for whoever hit the home team with a favorable result at halftime, several people from Sanlúcar of Barrameda (Cádiz) have done so in this felt by identical quantities. When what was paid for this result dropped, precisely because of these bets, they stopped doing it and waited for it to go back above three euros to do it again a second time. The game ended in a 3-0 home win. The result at the break was 1-0, thanks to a goal from the penalty spot in the 28th minute of the game. The bettors pocketed 22,000 euros thanks to this.

According to the investigation documents to which EL PAÍS had access, these apparently coordinated bets triggered the alert of several organizations. Firstly, from the Directorate General for the Regulation of Games of Chance (DGOJ), dependent on the Ministry of Consumer Affairs, whose Global Betting Market Research Service (Sigma), created in 2017, detected irregularities in the betting market around this meeting. The alarm also went off in the Professional Football League, whose Tyche 3.0 system – which calibrates the level of manipulation on a scale that goes from one to five – detected “a large number of bets during the morning of the match on a possible local victory”. at rest” and, in addition, concentrated on two time slots, between 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. The Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has also warned of what happened.

Two days after the match, even one of the major private internet betting operators published a report stating that he believed there had been a alleged rigging in Gerena-Conil: “The accounts [desde la que se hicieron las apuestas] they earned large sums with an activity outside their usual parameters. We believe they are players or ex-players, although this is not confirmed,” said the company in a document at the time, which added that the two accounts had also made “suspicious bets on a match played in Gibraltar”.

The complaints reached the National Police Center for Integrity in Sports and Games (Cenpida, attached to the Central Unit for Specialized and Violent Crimes), dedicated to investigating corruption in sport. Its investigations led, at the end of June, to the one called Operation Coniferwhich has so far been settled with 21 detainees (including 12 active football players) and six others were investigated. In the archives, the Police seized 60,000 euros in cash and two vehicles. Early estimates put the money that could be pocketed at 500,000 euros since that match in May last year that sparked initial suspicions and the timing of his arrest, although police point out the ring could be operating for a long time .

According to police reports, the plot was divided into four stages. In the “direction” are presumably the two alleged ringleaders of the plot. One is Adrián RR, inside left of CD Rota, a team from the same group of the Third in which the first game was detected. The second is José Miguel BL, a friend of his who formed a team in the lower categories of Atlético Sanluqueño, club in which his father held a position until his death. This team will play next season in the Second RFEF after falling in category this year. This second leader had experience in the field of gambling, where he had exercised what is called in the jargon tipster —bookmaker— before allegedly turning to conspiracy activity.

On the second step were the 11 other active footballers who, according to the police, “took advantage of their condition” to organize the matches “in different football teams under their influence”. Specifically, they provided “internal team information” to the leaders with whom they communicated via “encrypted” communication systems. Among those believed to be involved is a player from Gerena (Fermìn GS) and another from Conil (Rubén DM), the two teams that played the game that revealed the plot. In addition, several have played or have played for Atlético Sanluqueño (Francisco Javier GA, José RV, Guillermo CC, Eduard OG and Gonzalo PG); two from the Extremadura Montijo team (Francisco Javier HG and José Ángel GM); another from CD Rota (Luis Alberto LM), and another who played for Gibraltar’s last league champion, Lincoln Red (Marco RB). The investigation points to hitches in more than twenty matches of the First and Second RFEF (formerly Second B and Third), but also in the Gibraltar National League.

Supposedly the two managers and the 11 players – footballers are banned from betting on matches in the category they play in – did so through false identities or intermediaries. To achieve the latter, the plot had two additional stages in its structure. One of them was what the police called “identity acquirers”, collaborators who provided the alleged conspiracy leaders with the first and last names of third parties outside the network so that they could place bets on the Internet through their intermediate. With these identities, they also opened payment gateways to channel the money. For each of these identities, these “performers” received 100 euros.

On the bottom step were the so-called mules in criminal jargon, the people the plot used to gamble in person at the bookmakers and reap the prizes obtained. In return, they received a small sum as payment. A police report states that to avoid detection, the conspiracy split these head-to-head bets to prevent the amount of winnings from being so high that the bettor would be notified to the Treasury. The investigations – which now aim to find out whether there are other players not belonging to the network involved who may have participated in time in the fixing of matches in which they participated in exchange for an economic consideration – suggest that the profits generated by the faking was funneled to the two alleged plot leaders, who were then instructed to “distribute it among the athletes involved and the rest of the organization’s members”.

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