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Police detain Eldense coach in match-fixing probe after 12-0 Barca B loss

La Liga president Javier Tebas has not hidden his desire to have Christmas football become a permanent part of the Spanish calendar.
La Liga president Javier Tebas has said he will investigate the match-fixing allegations.

Police in Spain investigating match-fixing have detained the coach of third-division club Eldense following their 12-0 to Barcelona B over the weekend.

Police said Eldense coach Filippo Vito di Pierro, who is Italian, was detained on Monday in the small eastern city of Elda and his documents were seized, according to the Associated Press.

Authorities detained him after interrogating some Eldense players following a complaint made by the club's president. Eldense temporarily ceased their sporting activities on Sunday, a day after the loss sealed their relegation to the fourth division with six games left to play.

The 12-0 loss equalled a record for Spain's third division. Extremadura routed Portuense by the same score in 1993.

Di Pierro was acting as one of Eldense's coaches alongside Fran Ruiz Casares.

Di Pierro was in the process of having his head-coaching licence certified, according to reports in Spain. 

Earlier, one of the team's players, Cheikh Saad, had accused three of his teammates and Ruiz of match-fixing. Saad said he refused to play on Saturday because he believed the game had been thrown.

Eldense conceded five goals in 15 minutes. Saad said via Twitter: "In the end everything will come out because the 12-0 is unreal."

The Mauritania-born striker told Cadena Cope radio: "I don't know about others but I had to come out and tell the truth.

"I have received threats not to reveal the names of those involved but I don't care.

"There were four that were involved and I have given the names to the police.

"The police have all the information they need and I hope there is an exemplary sanction against them. I'm 100 percent certain that the coach [Fran Ruiz] was involved."

Saad said his suspicion grew before the game when he and another regular starter were left out of Saturday's starting XI.

"As we sat on the bench and we saw the score of 5-0 after 15 minutes, we realised that something strange was going on," the 26-year-old said. "The coach told me to warm up and I told him I don't want to because I didn't want to play. I knew something was going on.

"I told the other bench players not to warm up because it was clear the game was fixed. I wanted those players that had started and fixed it to be the ones to finish the game in shame.

"Some of our players that finished the game crying are acting because they were the ones that fixed it."

Saad said that he saw the president of Eldense's managing board, David Aguilar, go to the dressing room at half-time with the score 8-0 and argue with the coach.

"He [Aguilar] had words with the coach, calling him a scoundrel because it was evident that something was going on," he said. "I listened to an audio recording that some people showed me after the game and it revealed that certain players had made bets to lose.

"In that recording, it stated that there would be eight goals at half-time and then the result in the second half. The police have that recording.

"We are talking about big amounts [money], they would not have earned that amount in their whole lives playing in this division. Apparently, it has not been the first game this season where that has happened."

Eldense said via a statement on Sunday that they had terminated their relationship with an Italian investor group, allegedly involved in the scandal, and have temporarily ceased first-team activity.

Reports in Spain say that the club have had three presidents, seven coaches and have used 52 players in 32 games this season. Eldense have won just three games and lost 24 and are bottom of group III in the Segunda Division B, 16 points behind their nearest rivals.

La Liga president Javier Tebas said he was asked by Aguilar to investigate the allegations.

Aguilar told Cadena Cope: "We have to get to the end of this. What we saw at the Mini Estadi was not football and I was tremendously ashamed. Now we will use youth team players for our remaining games, who I'm certain will compete more than those that played on Saturday."

Aguilar said he suspects that other games were fixed, including Cornella's 3-1 win at home to Eldense on March 19, where irregular bets took place in an encounter that had three penalties.

"For the past four weeks, we have seen strange things like we saw in the game in Cornella," he said. "Bookmakers suspended betting for our game last week because of those irregularities and I don't understand why they didn't do the same thing this weekend."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Adriana Garcia is a Valencia-based football writer who covers La Liga for ESPN FC.

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