In the last few days, a story has surfaced that has sent shock waves through the lower Spanish divisions. Numerous media outlets have reported that both La Liga, and the police are investigating 51 Spanish third and fourth tier football fixtures dating back to 2015. Real Madrid Castilla, as well as Barcelona B, are both among the team names on some of the fixtures in question. Arrests have already been made, and further action is expected imminently.
When I first heard about this scandal, I immediately checked to see which games were being put under the microscope. Castilla ended up only being listed in one fixture, but that game was pretty recent. On the 11th of November 2017, Castilla travelled to struggling side Cerceda, and came out with an expected 2-0 win. This victory came during Castilla’s nine game unbeaten run, a feat which saved them from a relegation scare. Naturally, I revisited my own live updates of the match to check if anything noticeable came up at the time. Nothing stood out, and the game seemed perfectly normal. However, after spending the majority of my day looking into how match fixing can work - perhaps it’s worth a closer look...
FULL TIME! CCD Cerceda 0-2 Real Madrid Castilla!— Real Madrid Castilla Stats (@CastillaStats) November 11, 2017
A good, but reasonably expected win puts some distance between Castilla and the relegation zone! For now, they're even in the top half of the table! #RealMadridCastilla #RealMadridCastillaLive
What does this mean for Real Madrid, though?
As it stands: nothing. Of course, any link whatsoever between two of the biggest clubs in world football and match fixing is going to be welcomed by the media with open arms. Real Madrid and Barcelona will understandably bring in more clicks, views and flicks than Écija Balompié or Lebrijana, so straight into the headlines they go. In terms of actual involvement in match fixing, the chances are that there was absolutely none. The large scale police investigation, reportedly involving over 200 officers across the country, focused on individuals and betting companies rather than clubs - and nobody from Real Madrid has even been considered for questioning as of yet.
People can make a lot of money from football games by gambling on things as conspicuous as the number of corners or throw-ins over 90 minutes. Every player on the pitch can be completely focused on winning, but when the ball comes near an influenced defender in the box, said defender could ensure that they boot the ball out of play for a throw-in or a corner to meet a set number. Factors like this and anything else that purposely determines a games outcome, counts as match fixing, and allows people to offend whilst hiding in plain sight. As you can tell, the authorities have quite a job on their hands.
Major match-fixing investigation:https://t.co/V3cqoFA9b6— AS English (@English_AS) February 20, 2018
Every Real Madrid youth player has the potential to earn millions during their short careers. The same goes for the extended staff that operate off of the pitch. I take Santiago Solari for many things, but a cheat certainly is not one of them. It would take an incredible amount of stupidity for any of them to risk not only their careers, but their freedom. Realistically, if there was a problem during the game - it would have most likely come from the Cerceda contingent. To be clear, that isn’t me pointing the finger, as I believe that the game was perfectly credible. It seems like a case of bad luck for Real Madrid (and Cerceda), who happened to be playing the wrong game at the wrong time. Castilla will continue to carry on with their season as normal, and the implications of the investigation will not affect them in anyway.
Make no mistake - this is huge. People have been sent down for this for a long time, including a former Athletic Bilbao player. If the investigation is successful, then potentially hundreds of other culprits could be uncovered. Early findings suggest that investors and companies from around the world could be involved as well. The repercussions for some clubs could be fatal. This isn’t the only report of match Spanish football match fixing in recent times, either. Although Real Madrid are out of trouble, it would be well worth keeping tabs on this story and how it unfolds... It might just blow up in the near future.