Big names as match-fixing trial opens in Spain

Tuesday saw the start of a trial in the Spanish city of Valencia related to accusations of match-fixing dating back to 2011, which involves several big-name current and former footballers.

The trial, which is due to last until September 13th is related to accusations of match-fixing in La Liga match between Levante and Zaragoza in the 2010-11 season.

It was the last game of the season and Zaragoza needed to win in order to avoid relegation and it is alleged that the club paid a total of 965,000 euros (around a million U.S. dollars) to the Levante players in order to ensure their 2-1 triumph.

A total of 42 people face charges related to the game, including former Zaragoza majority shareholder, Agapito Iglesias and the well-known Mexican coach Javier Aguirre, who was the Zaragoza coach at the time.

Of the defendants, 36 are footballers, including the entire Zaragoza squad from that season, who are accused of match-fixing and will face a prison sentence of two-years each, as well as a fine of 1,930,000 euros (2,120,000 U.S. dollars) if found guilty.

Among the players on trial are Paris Saint Germain’s former Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera and former Atletico Madrid’s midfielder Gabi Fernandez, both with Zaragoza at the time.

Others facing charges are Girona’s Uruguayan international Cristhian Stuani, Ecuadorian, Felipe Caicedo, who is now at Lazio in Italy, Jefferson Montero, who now plays with Birmingham City and the retired central defender Sergio Ballesteros, who used to play for Levante.