Coach, players detained as Spain police probe match-fixing

MADRID: Spanish police investigating match-fixing said Tuesday they have detained the coach and two players of a third-division club that lost 12-0 to Barcelona's "B'' team over the weekend.

Eldense coach Filippo Vito di Pierro, who is Italian, was detained in the small eastern city of Elda. The man who served as the club's general director and represented the group of Italian investors that recently partnered with Eldense, Nobile Capuani, also was detained. Authorities did not immediately name the two players taken into custody.

Police detained them after interrogating some Eldense players following a complaint made by the club's president.

They have denied any wrongdoing.

"This is a very delicate subject and it needs to be treated very seriously," Barcelona coach Luis Enrique said. "In other countries we have seen similar situations and they are very unfortunate. Too many people are trying to benefit from football."

Eldense temporarily ceased its sporting activities on Sunday, a day after the loss sealed its relegation. The team also ended its contract with the group of Italian investors.

The 12-0 loss equaled a record for Spain's third division. Extremadura routed Portuense by the same score in 1993.

Eldense striker Cheikh Saad told local media that four teammates were involved in the scheme, including some who were seen in tears and were being consoled by Barcelona players after the final whistle.

Saad said he found out that the arrangement was for the score to be 8-0 at halftime and 12-0 at the end.

He did not name the teammates.

"In the end, everything will be revealed," said Saad, adding that he refused to play and stayed on the bench.

Eldense club president David Aguilar said that a player's agent told him that the match had been fixed in connection with online betting. He said he had noticed unusual decisions made by the Italian coach recently, including the use of players who had not been playing regularly.

Eldense has six matches left this season. Barcelona "B'' leads its regional group of the third division.

Eldense has played three straight seasons in the third division. The club, founded in 1921, was in the second division for five consecutive seasons in the late 1950s and early 60s.

Di Pierro was acting as one of Eldense's coaches alongside Fran Ruiz Casares. Spanish media said the Italian was in the process of having his head-coaching license certified.