La Liga sides Villarreal and Getafe have declared their innocence after reports emerged in the Spanish media alleging that both clubs were under investigation for possible match fixing.
The authorities are looking at a match between the two sides last season as part of the wider scope of Operation Oikos which was launched last year. Already that has resulted in the arrests of 11 people in the country on various charges such as match fixing and money laundering, primarily with attempts to try and arrange the outcome of second division matches to ensure certain teams made it into the play-offs and then were subsequently promoted to La Liga.
The match under investigation was slightly different. It took place on the last day of the season and, whilst Villarreal had nothing to play for, Getafe needed to win to keep alive their hopes of pipping Valencia to the last remaining Champions League spot.
In the event, the result of the match – it ended in a 2 – 2 draw – proved to be academic, as Valencia won away at Real Valladolid on the same day. That ensured that they played in the Champions League this season, whilst Getafe had to be content with a spot in the Europa League.
Despite this, the court in the city of Huesca is investigating the match further, and has asked for more information from the police.
Both clubs have categorically denied that they were involved in any wrongdoing, and reject any insinuations of match fixing, stressing their commitment to the principles of transparency, integrity and fair play.
However, Spanish football in the past has acquired a reputation for “suitcase payments”, with teams offering cash payments to their rivals to win, or to take points off another in the battle for league positions.
Some have argued that this practice does not strictly fall within the purview of match fixing, because it is still the responsibility of the team which has been incentivised to actually win, but the custom is a morally grey area at best.
Last month, in a first for Spanish football, five former Osasuna directors and two ex-Real Betis players were jailed for match fixing games in 2013 and 2014.