Potential match-fixing has long been suspected in the sport of soccer across the world, but La Liga president Javier Tebas matter-of-factly told BBC Sport that between eight and 10 matches in Spain's top two leagues are fixed on a yearly basis.
Tebas, who presides over Spanish football's top two divisions, didn't provide any evidence to back up his claims, but he was quite clear with regard to how prevalent he believes the issue to be on BBC's World Football Show.
"Between the first and second divisions, around eight to 10 games have been manipulated (per season)," Tebas said. "If they do not eradicate it immediately, the infection will grow."
Tebas also discussed the possible reasoning behind such scandals, and he pointed toward an international mafia as one of the possibilities. He also suggested that any player could be involved in match-fixing regardless of his salary level:
It sounds easier for players with financial problems to be corrupted but we cannot generalize it. It happens also with players who earn a lot of money, who are comfortable but I am trying to eradicate the black sheep in La Liga. If we do not eradicate now, it will become like the Wild West with no laws, no control.
Many questions remain when it comes to potential match-fixing in Spain, but Tebas seems serious about truly cracking down. He has even come up with a preliminary punishment scale that would make match fixers face the consequences if found guilty.
"If a player, coach, director has been directly involved, he will have a lifetime ban," added Tebas. "If he knows about it but doesn't participate and doesn't tell the authorities, he will have a three-year ban."
This isn't the first time that Spanish match-fixing has been in the news over the past year, as Deportivo's win over Levante in April was investigated by the Spanish Football League, according to BBC Sport.
Do you feel match fixing is as prevalent as Tebas claims in Spanish football?
Nothing was proven, although Deportivo scored three first-half goals in succession, which were considered suspicious by many.
Deportivo president Augusto Cesar Lendoiro agreed that match-fixing is rampant, according to BBC Sport, but he denied any wrongdoing on behalf of his club.
It is likely to be extremely difficult for investigators to prove match-fixing with certainty, as it isn't always obvious, but it is definitely something that needs to be explored moving forward. If Tebas is unable to get it under control, it could plague Spanish soccer for a long time to come.
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