• Thu
  • Jul 31, 2014
  • Updated: 10:54am
PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 May, 2013, 12:09pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am

Spain probes Chinese mafia over soccer match-rigging


Patrick Boehler has written for Foreign Policy, Time, Bloomberg, Le Monde Diplomatique and the Chinese weekly Shidai Zhoubao. He has covered Southeast Asia for the Austrian daily Wiener Zeitung and China's relations with Myanmar for the Myanmese magazine The Irrawaddy, reporting from the trenches of the Kachin civil war and Yangon's tea houses. He began his reporting career in Kuala Lumpur with the Malaysian online news portal Malaysiakini. Before moving to Hong Kong, he worked for Austria's ministries of defence and foreign affairs in Beijing. He studied in Milan, Vienna, Beijing and Hong Kong.

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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