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La Liga players arrested in match-fixing raid

Spanish police have announced they expect to make 11 arrests, with the group including current and former La Liga players, as part of an ongoing raid into match-fixing in the country's top three divisions.

The action is being carried out in several regions of Spain as part of operation "Oikos," following an investigation by a court in Huesca regarding suspected gambling-motivated match-fixing in Spanish football.

A police statement on Tuesday said: "Police agents are carrying out an operation against an organisation allegedly involved in match-fixing in professional football. 

"Eleven people are expected to be detained, including current and former players from the first division, as well as club presidents and executives. 

"The investigation has allowed us to corroborate that those investigated reached agreements with different players to 'fix' at least three games relating to the [Spanish] first, second and third divisions. 

"One of those games fixed, the second division game, had a strong impact on bets, with [betting] companies registering a volume of money 14 times higher than usual for that division."

Spanish news agency Europa Press said two of those arrested play for La Liga teams, though none of the country's top clubs were apparently involved.

The operation stems from a claim filed by La Liga regarding suspected irregularities during last season's league game between SD Huesca and Nastic Tarragona in the penultimate round of the Segunda Division in May 2018.

Huesca, already promoted to La Liga, lost 1-0 at home to Nastic, a team that was fighting to avoid the drop. Suspicion arose after large bets reportedly coming from Ukraine and Asia were made during the game.

Up to 30 betting companies suspended all betting quotes for that game after detecting large sums of money being placed on a 0-0 result at half-time and a Nastic victory at the end of the match.

Francesco Baranca, general director of Federbet, an anti-match-fixing organisation, said at the time "there was very unusual betting activity made" during that game and he believed a profit of at least €10 million was made from that game alone.

A La Liga statement said: "La Liga wants to highlight the extraordinary work done by the Spanish police to dismantle an organised criminal group that achieved financial benefits through match-fixing in our country. 

"La Liga reported on May 29, 2018, the game between SD Huesca and Gimnastic Tarragona for a suspected sport corruption crime. ...This police operation highlights the systems of protecting integrity that La Liga put in place five seasons ago, to protect all football competitions in Spain from being stained, to be effective in detecting and reporting games that have allegedly been manipulated.

"La Liga continues to work to prevent, monitor, investigate and report any possible match-fixing of a game with the aim to keeping the game clean."

Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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