Man United ace Ander Herrera embroiled in court case for Match-Fixing

February 14, 2018 11:02 pm

Footballers embroiled in an alleged match-fixing scandal which could see Manchester United star Ander Herrera end up in court, have been accused of providing ‘inconsistent’ and ‘contradictory’ statements.

It emerged last week the midfielder was facing trial over allegations he was part of a scam to throw a Spanish league game.

Prosecutors are expected to seek a two-year prison sentence and six-year worldwide ban for the 28-year-old and 35 other footballers if convicted of sports corruption in indictments Spanish daily newspaper Marca reported on Wednesday it had been given access to.

Ander Herrera was part of Real Zaragoza’s side which avoided relegation in May 2011

The Manchester United star is in embroiled in an investigation regarding his former side

Man United ace Ander Herrera embroiled in court case for Match-Fixing

Herrera denies any wrongdoing but has been warned he could be ordered into the dock to explain money he received along with eight former team-mates at his old side Zaragoza which prosecutors suspect was passed on to rival players from Levante for deliberately losing the game.

Court documents show Herrera has admitted receiving two separate payments totalling £79,000 – four and two days before the allegedly suspect May 21, 2011 match which Zaragoza won 2-1 to avoid relegation from Spain’s top league.

They also show he denied ever seeing a payslip dated September 19, 2011 which prosecutors claim was drafted to legitimise the alleged bribes as bonuses.

The intriguing seven-page court document, signed by three Spanish judges who last month reopened a long-running judicial probe into the controversial match, lays out Herrera’s position by stating: ‘Ander Herrera denies having ever received money in cash from the club.

‘He says he never saw the payslip referenced in the files and handed the money from the bank transfers — €50,000 (£44,000) and €40,000 (£35,000) — in cash in an envelope to then-owner Agapito Iglesias at the entrance to the training ground changing rooms without anyone else being present.’

Then-team-mate Leo Ponzio told investigators he had also handed Iglesias, facing trial too, the cash.

But the court papers show Uruguayan Carlos Diogo, then a Zaragoza right back, said he had no idea what his two payments totalling €85,000 (£75,000) were for – and spent it on holidays and a chef at his restaurant.

He described his withdrawal of €35,000 (£31,000) a day before the match under investigation as a ‘simple coincidence.’

Now-retired Mauricio Lanzaro said he handed his cash to a club staffer ‘whose name he doesn’t remember’.

Gabi, now Atletico de Madrid’s captain, said the €90,000 (£72,000) he received in two bank transfers was withdrawn and handed to Iglesias in a restaurant whose name he couldn’t remember.

According to the court document, then-manager Javier Aguirre said that when he went to his branch after receiving €85,000 (£75,000), his bank manager told him ‘everything was sorted’ and handed him a closed envelope he assumed contained cash which he handed Iglesias. He also denied having received a bonus.

The document says Iglesias, Zaragoza president when the match was played as well as owner, insists Gabi’s claims he handed him the money were untrue. It said he also denied holding a meeting with the team captains the eve of the match and denied asking them to return the amounts they had been paid as a ‘personal favour.’

The judges who ordered the reopening of the case, based at Valencia Provincial Court, ruled: ‘The assertions of the Zaragoza players and directors are inconsistent and even contradictory.’

Begona Solaz, Concepcion Ceres and Olga Casas added: ‘None of the witnesses have justified the destination of the money they received by bank transfer on May 17 and 19, 2011.

‘The reasons it was transferred are not known, the testimonies of those involved regarding are equally contradictory and what’s more, all the players who received these transfers deny any knowledge of the payslips containing the amounts they received.’

The forthright ruling also casts doubt on the claims made by Levante players suspected of being the end recipients of the alleged ‘bribe’ money who were quizzed about why they had appeared to use less of their own money in the months after the match.

One, former Levante goalie Gustavo Munua, took no cash out of his bank account between May 21 and November 7, 2011 – compared to 21 withdrawals over the same timeframe before the match.

The court documents show Javi Venta, who ended his career at Brentford, withdrew just €700 (£615) in the 141 days following the match compared to €10,200 (£8,965) in the 141 days before.

Former Levante player Xavi Torres, who was linked with a potential move to Everton in December 2010, said he was living with his parents to explain his reduced expenditure after the match took place,

The La Liga investigation is being heard at the City of Justice building in Valencia

Defender Hector Rodas, now playing in Belgium, espoused the same argument.

The ruling states: ‘It’s indisputable that, to give an appearance of legitimacy with regards to the transfers carried out in May 2011, payslips dated September 19 2011 are specifically made with the concept ‘P.Extra 5’ and for the sporting director ‘Paga Extra 7′, although the Zaragoza players are denying knowledge of those payslips.’

It adds: ‘The fact the match referee didn’t register any suspicions is not a determining factor in evaluating whether any possible criminal behaviour has taken place, because as prosecutors have made clear, any behaviour designed to predetermine the result would be enough.’

The three Valencia-based judges also wrote in the seven-page document dated January 25 which led to the reopening of the case – after they were asked to study an appeal by La Liga bosses, state prosecutors and Deportivo La Coruna which was relegated following Zaragoza’s victory: ‘It’s undeniable, from reports by the Tax Agency with regards to 17 Levante players, that a generalised reduction of cash withdrawals which is not compensated by greater credit card expenditure exists.

‘Some of the Levante players have confirmed this, offering unilateral explanations which are not substantiated by the result of other facets of the investigation.

‘Other players offer justifications which are not very credible such as the suggestion that for months they lived off their close or extended family because it was holiday time.

‘Others have made use of their constitutional right to not give evidence.’

Herrera said this week: ‘As I stated back in 2014 when this issue was raised, I have never had, and never will have, anything to do with manipulating match results.

‘If I am ever called to testify in a judicial hearing, I will be delighted to attend as my conscience is totally clear.

‘I love football and I believe in fair play – both on and off the pitch.’

The other 41 people facing trial — 35 footballers and then-Zaragoza bosses — have all denied any wrongdoing. None have yet been formally charged as formal charges are only laid in Spain shortly before trial.

Two year prison sentences in Spain normally end up being suspended.

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