Former Levante coach denies match-fixing in Spanish court
MADRID (AP) Former Levante coach Luis Garcia Plaza has told a court that he had no knowledge of an alleged scheme to fix a Spanish league game involving his team and Real Zaragoza.
When asked by a prosecutor Garcia denied Friday that he had been offered money by his players - which allegedly came from Zaragoza - to lose the game.
The case concerns a top-tier game between Levante and Zaragoza at the end of the 2010-11 season.
Prosecutors say there is evidence that 965,000 euros (nearly $1 million) was paid to Levante's players to lose the match in the final round of the season in order to help Zaragoza avoid relegation. Zaragoza won 2-1 to secure its spot in the first division, with Deportivo La Coruna being relegated instead.
More than 40 people have been accused and have appeared before a judge in Valencia, including dozens of players and former Mexico coach Javier Aguirre, who managed Zaragoza at the time.
Among the 36 players accused are Ander Herrera, now with Paris Saint-Germain; former Leicester midfielder Vicente Iborra; former Atletico Madrid captain Gabi Fernandez; River Plate midfielder Leonardo Ponzio; Serbian defender Ivan Obradovic; Lazio forward Felipe Caicedo; Itailan defender Maurizio Lanzaro; and Uruguay striker Cristhian Stuani.
Prosecutors said players on both teams were aware of the match-fixing. They said they found evidence the money was transferred to Levante players after analyzing tax reports and banking transactions at the time.
The suspects could face two years in prison and a six-year ban from soccer if found guilty.
They have all denied any wrongdoing.
Garcia made the court appearance after traveling from China where he coaches Beijing Renhe.
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Updated September 20, 2019