Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera and Atletico Madrid captain Gabriel “Gabi” Fernandez were named Monday as suspects in a match-fixing probe launched by Spain’s state prosecutor.
They were identified when the prosecutor issued an official complaint and asked the judiciary to investigate officials and players linked to football clubs Zaragoza and Levante in May 2011.
The match that was allegedly fixed, in round 30 of the 2010-2011 Spanish league program, was played on May 21, 2011.
The Anti-Corruption branch of the prosecutor’s office issued a writ saying Zaragoza paid 965,000 euros ($1,198,500) to “Levante players so they would allow the Zaragoza team to win.”
Five Zaragoza officials, including current Japan coach Javier Aguirre, and 18 players, including Fernandez and Herrera, were named and alleged to have been involved in “sports fraud.”
Agapito Iglesias, then president of Zaragoza is named, as is the club itself.
The writ also names 18 players who were at Levante at the time, including Juan Francisco “Juanfran” Garcia who still plays at the club.
The prosecutor lists payments, dates and even specific bank accounts into which alleged bribes were paid.
According to the writ, Gabi scored twice — in the 38th and 73rd minutes — and Christian Stuani pulled one back for Levante in the 80th, giving Zaragoza victory as had been allegedly agreed. That win saved Zaragoza from relegation.
Match-fixing is a crime that can, in Spain, lead to prison sentences for individuals, and clubs can be banned from all official competitions.
The prosecutor has asked the courts to probe those named after summoning players for questioning on October 3.
Spanish league president Javier Tebas in June 2013 included the Levante vs. Zaragoza match in a list of nine matches he said his organization was investigating for match-fixing.
The league in May 2013 opened a separate probe into Deportivo La Coruna’s 4-0 win at Levante a month earlier — a second Levante match to come under scrutiny.
Levante still plays in the top flight, but Zaragoza was relegated to the second division in 2013.