Hearts Pallardo named in alleged match-fixing case

Miguel Pallardo played for Levante in the match under investigation by the Spanish authorities. Pic: SNS
Miguel Pallardo played for Levante in the match under investigation by the Spanish authorities. Pic: SNS
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Hearts midfielder Miguel Pallardo is one of 42 players and officials named as suspects by Spanish anti-corruption prosecutors over alleged match-fixing in La Liga game between Real Zaragoza and Levante in 2011.

Spain’s anti-corruption prosecutor filed its case in a Valencia court yesterday following a probe into Real Zaragoza’s 2-1 win at Levante on the final day of the 2010/11 campaign, which meant Zaragoza avoided relegation.

Pallardo played the whole match for Levante, in which Gabi - now captain of Atletico Madrid - struck for Zaragoza in the 38th and 73rd minutes of the encounter at Levante’s Ciutat de Valencia stadium and Uruguay forward Christian Stuani, now at Espanyol, replied for Levante ten minutes from time.

The match that was allegedly fixed, in round 30 of the 2010-2011 Spanish league program, was played on May 21, 2011.

The Anti-Corruption branch of the prosecutor’s office issued a writ saying Zaragoza paid 965,000 euros to “Levante players so they would allow the Zaragoza team to win”.

Five Zaragoza officials, including current Japan coach Javier Aguirre, and 18 players, including current Manchester United star Ander Herrera, were named and alleged to have been involved in “sports fraud”.

Agapito Iglesias, then president of Zaragoza, is named, as is the club itself.

The writ also names 18 players who were at Levante at the time, including Juan Francisco “Juanfran” Garcia who still plays at the club and Pallardo.

The prosecutor lists payments, dates and even specific bank accounts into which alleged bribes were paid.

According to the writ, Gabi scored twice - in the 38th and 73rd minutes - and Christian Stuani pulled one back for Levante in the 80th, giving Zaragoza victory as had been allegedly agreed. That win saved Zaragoza from relegation.

Match-fixing is a crime that can, in Spain, lead to prison sentences for individuals, and clubs can be banned from all official competitions.

The issue was catapulted into the headlines in February last year when investigators said they had uncovered evidence hundreds of games at club and national level had been fixed around the globe in a betting scam run from Singapore. The investigating judge overseeing the Valencia case will now rule on whether to proceed with prosecution.

Pallardo, 28, joined Hearts in the summer as a free agent and has established himself in the first-team.

List of players involved in match: 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.