La Liga

Match-fixing to hit La Liga games?

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LONDON (AP)

Match-fixers will successfully manipulate at least eight matches in Spain's top two divisions this season, the league's president warned on Wednesday.

La Liga President Javier Tebas announced his fears at a conference of football executives while unveiling plans to impose life bans on players and officials involved in fixing.

Tebas has previously acknowledged that 10 games are suspected of having been fixed, and now believes that another eight to 10 matches will be manipulated in the current season.

''Many people try to fix many more games than those eight to 10,'' Tebas said through a translator on the sidelines of the Leaders in Football conference.

Tebas believes that ''the main problem is from an international mafia.''

''It sounds easier for players with financial problems to be corrupted but we cannot generalize it,'' he said. ''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.''

The fight against match-fixing appears to have been boosted by the arrest last month of 14 people in Singapore, including Dan Tan, who has been accused of coordinating a global crime syndicate that made millions of dollars betting on rigged Italian matches and other games across the world.

''This is one criminal gang operating out of Singapore - it is over,'' said Chris Eaton, FIFA's former head of security. ''There are other criminal gangs operating out of Singapore, India and other parts of the world.''

Eaton is now director of sport integrity at the International Centre for Sport Security, a Qatar-backed group funding efforts to research the extent of fixing and ways to combat it.

The ICSS has now been appointed by the Spanish league to help eradicate match-fixing.

''It is important that football continues to be vigilant and develop strong policies that safeguard sport integrity,'' Eaton said. ''Our teams of experts in this field look forward to working with the LFP (Spanish league) to support its ongoing endeavors to promote integrity,'' said Eaton.

Match-fixing is a crime in Spain and can lead to prison time for individuals or expulsion of a club from official competition.

''We have to modify our disciplinary code and establish sanctions,'' Tebas said. ''Lifetime bans for anyone that has changed a sporting result, whether it a player, director, referee or coach. Lifetime bans. Three-year bans should go to anyone that knows it is going to happen or that it has happened, but not filed a criminal complaint.''

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