EITHERperation Pizarro. Courteous operation. Oikos operation. Spanish football had a problem with corruption, which was the main concern of entities, managers and fans, as reflected in the internal surveys that LaLiga handled, and handles. ‘He had’, and he doesn’t have, because according to data from the Integrity and Security department of the club’s employers’ association, matches have been eradicated in Spanish professional football (First and Second). And in the rest of the categories? It is not possible to be so categorical, but it can be said that our football is “very healthy”in the words of José Ignacio Arbea, responsible for this Integrity area.
The body directed by Javier Tebas has monitored 7,809 games this season between LaLiga Santander, LaLiga Smartbank, First, Second and Third RFEF, Iberdrola League, youth football and other competitions and friendly matches. Yes, also friendly. In recent years LaLiga has observed some alarm in this type of meeting, in which nothing is at stake in sporting terms. In those nearly 8,000 meetings there have only been 13 complaints, none corresponding to professional football. For comparison: last year there were 15 and in 17-18, when the Pizarro and Corts operations jumped, up to 39.
The message has permeated: we must thank the predisposition that the footballers have
How has LaLiga finished with the amaos? To begin with, we work with the players in a prevention program. The team led by Florentino Villabona, director of Integrity and Security, and José Ignacio Arbea, offers talks to teams of all categories, from First to Third RFEF, women’s football and even youth, to explain to footballers the dangers of fixing a match: since 2010 sports corruption is classified as a crime in the Penal Code, so it can carry sentences of up to four years in prison, unlike the “only” sports punishment that existed before. “They are told what happens if they commit a crime of sports corruption, they are explained how organized groups use formulas to get close to them so that later they commit fudges, how these groups act through bets to launder…“, explains Arbea to Front Page.
From LaLiga they point to these workshops, which are mandatory for players and technical bodies, as the first leg to end the matches. They consider that the information available to the footballer now is greater than it was a few years ago. “They are now bound and aware. You feel it when you go to give them the Integrity workshops: they ask you questions, they delve into issues. We are happy“. This year 3,500 players and coaches have been trained.
Beyond the training and information given to the players, there are two vitally important resources to fight corruption: technology and Integrity officers. As for the first of these resources, LaLiga has Tyche 3.0 software to monitor all Spanish football matches at the main bookmakers, whether national or international. If there are suspicious movements before or during the game, an alert is sent to the LaLiga team of analysts. If one odds plummets and another rises too high for no apparent reason, or too much money is bet on a match compared to similar matches, the system detects that something strange is going on.. LaLiga boasts of being the only sports competition that has software of this type, and it has already begun to be marketed through LaLiga Tech due to the interest of many other competitions, not just football.
The second resource is the Integrity officers. They don’t attend all the games, but only those that LaLiga considers to be at higher risk of a match-fixing, either because they handle some type of information or because there is a result that suits two teams to achieve an objective… “When more care must be taken is when the game is being played; that’s when one sees that they can be manipulating us through bets, because that’s when the most economic amount moves in a match“, narrates Arbea, inspector of the National Police.
If a club does not pay, it makes its players sensitive to this perversion
This course there have been 1,400 agents ‘monitoring’ in situ. What do these field officers detect or seek to detect? Jos Ignacio Arbea explains it: “Attitudes of footballers… They can listen to a direct conversation on a field of play, there may be plays that often go unnoticed but are important. They can see an intensity that is not normal or associated behaviors that are not common in professional people… And then they do very important prevention work, because when they arrive in the field they say ‘we are here for anything, in case something has happened, if someone has contacted you to do something you shouldn’t’. They refresh the workshops a bit.”
And if there is an alarm? “We open it and study it, we see what the Integrity officer who has been in that game says and, if we consider that it has enough body and there may be a fix, what we do is transfer it to the National Police, through a collaboration framework that we have signed since 2017. If we see that it remains in an alarm that has no more, we consider it a minor alarm and what we do is refer it to the DGOJ [Direccin General de Ordenacin del Juego]because that way they see if there is any soccer player who has bet,” says the person in charge.
The players, the key to everything
Arbea points to the good attitude of the players as the main reason why matches have disappeared from professional football. “We have to thank the footballers for the predisposition they have to make it happen, because they are a necessary and important part in making this a success. The end of the season this year… We have seen that an Alcorcn that has been relegated for two months has taken away the promotion from Eibar and almost took it away from Almera a day before. That has not happened in Europe anywhere. The message has got through, they are the first actors and I would like to reflect this on behalf of LaLiga, to congratulate the footballers”.
In the talks that players receive, they are reminded that by gambling law they are prohibited from betting on matches in competitions in which they participate. If they do, it will be an administrative foul. And to competitions in which they do not participate? Can, for example, a LaLiga Santander player bet on a LaLiga Smartbank, Segunda RFEF or Liga Iberdrola match? According to the leader, yes, since neither the law of the game nor the RFEF regulations prohibit it, but more and more clubs prohibit it to players in their internal regulations. The one from Real Madrid, recent league champion, says the following: “You should know that betting is not allowed. The club’s Internal Regulations stipulate that no player can bet on any football or basketball match, as the case may be, neither directly nor indirectly. This prohibition includes the communication of non-publicly available information to any person with the intention that they use it to place bets or in connection with any bet.” A prohibition that in some clubs goes beyond staff and technicians and is extended to employees.
When more care must be taken is just when the game is being played
The clubs, of course, have a relevant role, because a point that is not minor so that the players do not fall into the ‘temptation’ is that the payments are up to date. “If not, you turn them into sensitive elements to fall into this perversion. If a person doesn’t get paid or a team doesn’t pay, someone comes along and tells them ‘do this and I’ll pay you both in B,'” says Arbea, who also directs the look at a sector affected by the amaos on which the focus is not usually put: the fans: “There is one thing that is also beginning to be exploited, the issue that when there is a sports corruption crime, the fans who go to the stadium are being scammed.. You’re getting passionate about a club, spending money…” A scam that occurs less and less. As the person in charge says, Spanish football “is in good health.” The ball and LaLiga are no longer stained.
ahead of tennis
Despite the good data on Spanish football, José Ignacio Arbea shows his concern about how organized groups in the world of football move at an international level. “Although here in Spain soccer is healthy, I think at least that we have it healthy both professionally and non-professionally, in soccer at a global level, organized groups continue to act at very important levels to launder money. betting and loving mainly soccer… also tennis, but not as much as soccer. I have a fact: illegal betting on sports adds up to 1.7 billion dollars each year. Here in Spain we are working hard so that it does not come this phenomenon, but it continues”.