A recent match-fixing scandal involving Argentina’s El Porvenir soccer team may be larger than anyone realized. New details are emerging that have prosecutors scrambling for answers.
It’s been 35 days since a soccer match-fixing scandal broke out in Argentina. The prosecutor in the case, Martín Rodríguez, continues to unravel the twisted tale. Each strand reveals a new thread of corruption, and the underground network may be much larger than anyone imagined.
The Argentine Football Association (AFA) and the leadership of the minor categories of the country’s soccer industry should be nervous. Following statements from soccer insiders and police raids on six homes, the plot thickens. What happened inside El Porvenir apparently involves a pool of representatives, several directors of institutions and many players.
Argentine Soccer Rife with Corruption
Suspicious betting alerts may have fallen last year, but Argentine soccer may wipe out any belief corruption in sports is dying. The ongoing investigation into the alleged match-fixing has uncovered a large clandestine betting operation. That includes a couple of big financiers, bet takers who earn commissions, and insiders who are instantly throwing the matches.
Rodríguez is trying to prove his hypothesis, but already has evidence to support the claim. He relied on the statements of the players of El Porvenir first, on some documents found in the subsequent raids, and on a look at the world of internet betting in the province of Buenos Aires.
In the minor soccer league categories, unlike in the top tier games, bettors don’t have a lot of alternatives. They cannot bet on who is going to make the first goal, how many penalties will occur, and other options. That’s in addition to the typical local draw, as well as visitor bets that arise in the world of virtual betting agencies.
Instead, what Rodríguez uncovered was a hub and spoke system. An individual, only identified as “Brian S.,” was at the center. Several players confirmed that he contacted them and seduced them with trips to exotic destinations or money. After, he told them that they should do a favor to show loyalty.
That favor was to produce certain types of plays whose stipulated value was between 10,000 and 30,000 pesos (US$86 and $258) per game. The average salary of a player in a lower tier of Argentine soccer is, at most, 30,000 pesos. However, as an additional incentive, the value was in US dollars, not pesos, as Argentina suffers major instability with its economy.
Each Revelation is a New Mystery
So far, there are no less than six men linked to the economic and organization productivity of soccer players from more than 20 Argentinian teams. There are specifically complaints about the goalkeeper of a team from Buenos Aires, and there is evidence that a remote bar in the city of Lanús was used as a base of operations.
It is now assumed that the level of corruption could not be carried out without the collaboration of managers, and even some technical bodies. Rodriguez and his crew are still evaluating what to do with the five involved in El Porvenir. These could provide more details in exchange for leniency when it comes time to prosecute.
The equipment that authorities seized in the raids will undergo a thorough forensic investigation by the Directorate of Judicial Assistance of Complex Crimes. However, because many of the devices were obtained after the scandal broke, some of them may no longer hold any data. The match-fixing gang may have erased hard drives and other storage devices in anticipation of the investigation.
The prosecution also asked for official broadcast videos of the games, but ran into trouble. Only two of the B Metro games are aired each day, and none of the C Metro games are televised. These are the two leagues prosecutors believe are most likely guilty.
Closing the Net
Rodriguez is now trying to recover videos from other sources, including social media and club YouTube channels. However, even these may not provide conclusive evidence. He would have to have enough video and clarity to prove his case. This would include proving that any questionable action was more than simply a player’s mistake.
Once the investigation ends, the prosecutor will begin placing charges. Some could face prison sentences of up to three years. Others could simply receive bans from sports.
However, the prosecutor is really going after the Big Fish. He wants the leaders of the activity, who could receive prison sentences of up to 15 years.
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