08 July 2016

La Liga president defends Messi and vows to tackle match-fixing

Fans the real victim of of results collusion

My article for MARCA

The Spanish league president Javier Tebas attended a conference in Barcelona on legal issues surrounding sports betting on Friday, going into great detail about the threats facing the integrity of the sport. 

The president also shared his thoughts on Lionel Messi who received a 21 month suspended sentence for tax evasion earlier on in the week.

"I don't think think Messi is a criminal, I think he didn't know what was going on and the verdict may be different in the supreme court," Tebas said.

"For sure he was involved in a risky tax structure, and for that there have to be consequences.

"But we shouldn't lose sight of the fact either that he's contributed over 160 million to the state coffers, money that goes on things like hospitals and roads.”

Tebas dismissed claims of a witch-hunt against the player or the club, simply stating that the sports world as a whole is what is being invesetigated, not just Messi.

The current laws to prevent match-fixing were put in place in 2010, and amended last year, though they could do with further fine tuning.

"Just as there will always be bag-snatchers and bank robbers, there will always be people who commit crimes in sport.

"Bookies can take swift action when there have been suspicious betting patterns, but the real losers are the supporters and the clubs themselves.

"We've seen the likes of Betis and Villarreal drop down to the second division as a result of of such corruption.”

According to the La liga boss, the media must do more with the regard to the matter, given the suspected practice of collusion between clubs in end of season matches where one party has no sporting interest at stake in the outcome.

"We've always got our eyes open, we have to be alert.

"We're working on the Real Sociedad v Rayo rumours, and also on the ones surrounding Granada v Las Palmas.

"Integrity has to come before everything else."


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