PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 May, 2013, 12:09pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am

Spain probes Chinese mafia over soccer match-rigging

BIO

Patrick Boehler has published on China and Southeast Asia in four languages for publications in the US, Europe and Asia. After stints with Austria's ministries of defence and foreign affairs in Vienna and Beijing, he began his reporting career in Kuala Lumpur with the Malaysian online news portal Malaysiakini and, later, The Irrawaddy Magazine, a Myanmar exile publication in Thailand. He holds a doctorate in political science and has taught journalism at the University of Hong Kong. Follow him on Twitter: @mrbaopanrui
 

An investigation by Spanish authorities on reports that "Chinese mafia" rigged a soccer game has turned into yet another high-profile case involving ethnic Chinese criminal gangs in the country.

The match in the Primera Division was played on April 13, at which Valencia-based Levante lost 4-0 to Deportivo La Coruña on their home turf.

Deportivo scored three goals within 16 minutes in the first half, and Portuguese right-winger Bruno Gama scored a final goal for Depor in the 89th minute.

Police noticed a "disproportionate amount" of bets coming in during the mid-game break, the Madrid-based online news portal El Confidencial reported on May 10.

On Monday, the online muckraker said it had learned "the case has been linked to various Chinese mafia". These criminal organisations had contacted Levante team members through former Spanish and Chinese league players, according to the report.

This comes after Levante midfielder José Javier Barkero accused team captain Sergio Ballesteros and three other players of "not having tried hard enough" during the game, which had spurred an investigation by the national professional soccer league LFP in early May.

In October, Spanish police arrested at least 80 people in a crackdown against money-laundering and other crimes attributed to Chinese gangs. The arrests included a porn star who had a lead role in Sexual Messiah 2

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