BARCELONA (Reuters) - Two Eldense players have been arrested along with the club’s coach and managing director in a corruption investigation over alleged match-fixing after the team’s 12-0 Spanish third-tier joint record loss to Barcelona’s B side, police sources said.
A Spanish police source on Tuesday declined to name the two players but confirmed that Eldense’s Italian coach Filippo Di Pierro and managing director Nobile Capuani had been arrested.
Di Pierro joined the club in January after being hired by the unnamed Italian investment group which managed Eldense’s sporting and financial affairs until Sunday.
Defender Emmanuel Mendy said in an interview with radio station Cadena Ser on Monday that the club’s assistant coach, Fran Ruiz, had spoken to him in the hotel before the game about the plot to fix it.
“He asked me if I was in and how much I wanted and if I wasn’t in then I wouldn’t play,” he said. “Fran said this to me because the head coach doesn’t speak very good Spanish.”
Also speaking to Cadena Ser, Ruiz confirmed the story but said he was passing on orders from Di Pierro.
“In principle the orders came from above, from the coach. I didn’t know what to do, I was between a rock and a hard place,” Ruiz said.
“I didn’t say a word in the dugout, I made no substitutions and I didn’t send anyone out to warm up. Then I resigned from the club.”
A police source confirmed Di Pierro had been arrested on suspicion of corruption in connection with the 12-0 defeat but had no further information.
Eldense’s Mauritanian striker, Cheikh Saad, first insinuated that the game had been fixed on Sunday in a post on Twitter, writing: “12-0 is not real and everything will soon come to light.”
Saad was also among the substitutes during the game and told Cadena Ser he found out about the plan from Mendy. He said he was told players would be paid 30,000 euros ($31,965.00) each for fixing the game.
“The coach told me to come on as a substitute and I said I didn’t want to. After the game I came close to punching some of my team mates,” Saad said.
The defeat on Saturday, the heaviest loss in the Spanish third tier since 1992, sealed Eldense’s relegation to the Tercera Division.
A day later the club announced it would not play any more fixtures this season and had cut its ties with the group of Italian investors, although president David Aguilar later said Eldense would honor their fixtures.
There is no indication that Barcelona B players had any involvement with the alleged match-fixing.
“It’s a very delicate situation but it’s exclusively related to Eldense. Barca B have nothing to do with it and is another victim of this racketeering,” Barca coach Luis Enrique told reporters on Tuesday.
“I’m glad that it’s being investigated and is being taken seriously.”
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Editing by Mark Heinrich and Ken Ferris