Bans sought for 36 players for match-fixing in La Liga

Manchester United's Ander Herrera, right, is one of over 30 former La Liga players who has been accused of match fixing by Spanish prosecutors. (Rui Vieira/AP)

MADRID — Spanish prosecutors are seeking two-year prison sentences and six-year soccer bans for 36 players accused of match-fixing in the Spanish league seven years ago.

Former Mexico coach Javier Aguirre is facing the same sentence if found guilty in the case involving clubs Levante and Zaragoza at the end of the 2010-11 season, prosecutors said Wednesday.

Among the players accused are: Ander Herrera, now with Manchester United; Vicente Iborra of Leicester; Atletico Madrid captain Gabi Fernandez; and River Plate captain Leonardo Ponzio.

A total of 41 people were accused, including former club officials.

Spanish daily Marca said the six-year bans from soccer would be valid outside of Spain as well.

However, it’s unlikely those being accused would face actual prison time if found guilty because sentences of two years or less for first-time offenders are often suspended in Spain.

Those involved have denied wrongdoing.

Prosecutors cited evidence that Zaragoza paid 965,000 euros ($1.1 million) to Levante’s players to lose a match to Zaragoza.

Zaragoza’s 2-1 victory in the final round of the season allowed the team to avoid relegation.

A lower court had shelved the case but it was reopened last month after an appeal by prosecutors in Valencia, where the match was played.

Prosecutors are seeking charges of sports corruption, and document forgery against some of Zaragoza’s officials at the time.

Eighteen players from each team were accused, including: Felipe Caicedo of Lazio, Christian Stuani of Girona and Nicolas Bertolo of Banfield.

Ponzio said Tuesday in Argentina that his lawyers had not been notified of any recent developments in the case.

Ponzio, Fernandez, Bertolo and Herrera played for Zaragoza at the time. Iborra, Caicedo and Stuani were with Levante.

Prosecutors said the money that was allegedly given to Levante players was divided among the squad. Prosecutors contend all players in both teams were aware of the fix.

Prosecutors said they found evidence that the money was transferred to Levante players after analyzing tax reports and banking transactions at the time.

Spanish league president Javier Tebas first denounced the case in 2013 after a suspicion was brought up to him by another club’s president.

Tebas and many of the players were interrogated by authorities in recent years.

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