In the final match of the 2010-11 La Liga season, Real Zaragoza won on the road against Levante. The win was necessary for Zaragoza to avoid relegation. In 2013, league president Javier Tebas included that game on a list of 10 matches that were called into question, and the game’s result has been under investigation ever since. Today, anti-corruption authorities filed a case with judges in Valencia.
The filed report, which has been made public, alleges that Levante players received a total of 965,000 euros to lose the match. It may seem like a high number for just three points, but consider that estimates reveal the difference, in television revenue alone, between Spain’s first and second division to be around 20 million euros. Thus, this win — if the allegations are true — may have seemed like a bargain for Zaragoza.
The list of defendants features every player from both squads at the time, including Ander Herrera and Gabriel “Gabi” Fernandez — both formerly at Zaragoza, now with Manchester United and Atlético Madrid, respectively — and Francisco “Juanfran” Garcia, who is still with Levante. Former Zaragoza, now Japan, manager, Javier Aguirre was also named, as was former club president Agapito Iglesias. It is alleged that Zaragoza deposited the bribe pay-outs to their own players, coaches and team officials, who then transferred the money to their counterparts at Levante.
At this stage in the process, a judge will review the information and decide if the evidence presented is reason enough to proceed with prosecution. If found guilty, defendants face possible prison time and the clubs themselves face the possible bans from all sanctioned competition.
Turns out, if the alleged payments were made, the price paid may be more expensive than the clubs and players originally thought.