Leeds forward Samuel Saiz is currently under investigation in Spain over alleged match-fixing in La Liga, according to reports.
A spokesman for Spain’s National Police has confirmed an operation is ‘ongoing’ with former Real Madrid player Raul Bravo also said to have been held.
He has been described by El Mundo as the suspected ringleader of a criminal organisation dedicated to gambling-motivated match-fixing of Spanish first and second division games.
Tuesday morning’s police operation is said to have been sparked by a second division match last season between Huesca and Nastic de Tarragona.
Home side Huesca, who had already been promoted to La Liga, lost 1-0 to Nastic, who were fighting to stay in the second division. Nigerian Ikechukwu Uche scored the only goal of the game in May last year in the 72nd minute. Around 30 betting agencies and websites are said to have suspended betting after detecting an alarming rise in bets on a 0-0 draw at half-time and an away team victory at the end of the match. Francesco Baranco, Secretary General of Federbet which fights against match-fixing, described the movements as ‘mad.’
An increased number of bets which aroused suspicion reportedly came from Ukraine and Asia.
The Spanish Football Federation is believed to have flagged up its suspicions of possible match-fixing before Tuesday’s police operation with Spanish state prosecutors. Although several Spanish papers reported Saiz had been arrested, radio station COPE said it had confirmed he was under investigation but had not been formally arrested.
The radio station published on its website: “Several media have said Samuel Saiz, currently playing at Getafe, had also been arrested. But COPE journalist Gemma Santos has been able to confirm the player has not been arrested.”
Gemma Santos tweeted: “That’s correct. Our reporting team have had it confirmed that Samu Saiz is not under arrest.”
Saiz has been on loan at Getafe this season and respected daily newspapers El Mundo and ABC, citing police sources, have also named RC Deportivo de la Coruna player Inigo Lopez and retired footballer Borja Fernandez, who was playing for Real Valladolid when he hung up his boots, as detainees.
The police operation began at 8.30am and police officers are understood to have searched the HQ of Sociedad Deportiva Huesca, who have just been relegated from La Liga. The club’s president Agustin Lasaosa has reportedly been arrested. As well as match-fixing, police are expected to accuse at least some of the detainees of money laundering. Spanish state broadcaster TVE said 11 arrests had taken place so far.
A spokesman for Spain’s National Police said: “I can confirm a police operation against match-fixing is ongoing. I cannot confirm any of the names of the detainees that are circulating in the Spanish press at this moment in time. That is because the operation is still ongoing.”