HEARTS midfielder Miguel Pallardo is one of 42 people named by Spanish authorities in connection with an alleged instance of match-fixing three years ago.
It is understood that the Tynecastle club, who declined to comment yesterday, have been aware of the impending allegation for several weeks, and that Pallardo’s representatives insist he is innocent.
Hearts are not expected to take any action at present over the allegation, which centres on a match in La Liga between Levante and Real Zaragoza on 21 May 2011. Pallardo, now 28, was on loan to Levante from Getafe at the time. Later in 2011 he signed a permanent deal with Levante, and, apart from a loan spell with Almeria in 2013, he stayed there for three years before signing a one-year contract with Hearts in September.
The allegation, filed by Spanish prosecutors in a Valencia court on Monday, is that a total of nearly one million euros was paid electronically into the Zaragoza players’ accounts, and that those players then gave cash to the Levante players and officials to throw the match. Zaragoza, who needed a victory to avoid relegation, won the game 2-1. Gabi, who scored both Zaragoza goals that day and is now captain of Atletico Madrid, is also among the players named in the accusation, as are Manchester United midfielder Ander Herrera, former Celtic player Jiri Jarosik and Swansea midfielder Jefferson Montero.
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Thirty-six players in total are among the 42 accused, with the remainder being officials, including former Zaragoza president Agapito Iglesias. Zaragoza as a club have also been charged, but neither Levante nor any of their officials have been included. The charges, presented by fiscal Alejandro Luzon, allege that Iglesias, Gabi and other named Zaragoza players and officials were the ringleaders of the plot to get Levante to throw the match, and that they had “the consent of the rest of the players”. The charges continue: “They agreed to fix this last game [of the season]. To that end it was agreed to give Euros 965,000 to the Levante players in exchange for their agreement to allow Zaragoza to win the match.”
The fiscal forwarded bank records of the Zaragoza players as evidence, showing that many of them had paid deposits into their accounts on 17 and 19 May. Gabi is said to have received 50,000 and 35,000, while Herrera is said to have got 50,000 and 40,000. A total of 11 Zaragoza players are named as having been in receipt of the dual payments, all of around the same amounts, and totalling 965,000.
The charges do not detail how, precisely when or to whom the money was then allegedly paid. Instead, the evidence against the Levante players is understood to be circumstantial: namely, that in the days following the match, they withdrew less cash from their current accounts than would be normal, suggesting they had another, unusual source of income.
Investigation sources say that the payments to the Zaragoza players were listed in the club’s accounts as bonuses. But Gabi, in an appearance before the fiscal, appeared less sure about the purpose of the money, which he admitted having received.
“I did what Agapito asked me to,” he said. “I don’t know what that money was then used for. I thought that, since the club was going bankrupt, it would be because of that.”
Herrera denied the accusations on his Facebook account yesterday. “I have never had and will never have anything to do with manipulating match results,” the 25-year-old wrote. “If I am ever called to testify in any judicial hearing, I’ll be happy to attend, as my conscience is clear. I love football and I believe in fair play, both on and off the pitch.”
A judge will now decide whether there is enough evidence to lay formal charges against those named by the fiscal. Match-fixing is among a number of sporting offences that were specifically made illegal in Spain in 2010.
Possible penalties for individuals found guilty include prison sentences of up to four years, bans from their sport of up to six years, and a range of fines. Clubs found guilty could face points penalties, relegation, or exclusion from the league for a specified length of time.
Full list of players involved
Maurizio Lanzaro, Doblas, Paulo César da Silva, Jorge López, Ander Herrera, Braulio, Ponzio, Gabi, Diogo, Obradovic, Uche, Pinter, Paredes, Leo Franco, Jarosik, Bertolo, Boutahar, Angel Lafita, Miguel Pallardó, Gustavo Munúa, Hector Rodas, Rafa Jordá, Rubén Suárez, Xavi Torres, Stuani, Wellington Alves, Jefferson Montero, Robusté, Javi Venta, Reina, Caicedo, Vicente Iborra, Sergio Ballesteros, Juanfran and Cerra.
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