MADRID (Reuters) - A total of 18 people, including three soccer players, are to stand trial for match-fixing, a judge in Pamplona ruled on Thursday.
Former Real Betis trio Xavier Torres, Antonio Amaya Carazo and Jordi Figueras are accused of accepting payments to rig results at the end of the 2013-14 La Liga season in an effort to ensure Osasuna avoided relegation.
A court statement said there was evidence that former Osasuna executives paid the players, then at Betis, 400,000 euros ($427,000) to beat Osasuna’s rivals Real Valladolid and 250,000 to lose to Osasuna in their final two matches of the campaign.
Both results happened -- Betis beat Valladolid 4-3 and then lost 2-1 at Osasuna -- but Pamplona-based Osasuna, Valladolid and Seville-based Betis -- who have all denied involvement in match-fixing -- were all still relegated.
Following a two-year investigation, the judge recommended that 18 of 29 people under suspicion, including six former Osasuna executives, stand trial on charges of misappropriation, corporate crime, document and account forgery and sporting fraud.
Court papers said the Osasuna executives “decided to use the money of Club Atletico Osasuna to keep the club at all costs in the First Division by paying certain amounts of money in cash to players of other teams with the aim of altering the result of the competition.”
Midfielder Torres, now with Sporting Gijon, Carazo, who joined Rayo Vallecano in 2016, and Figueras, who now plays at Karlsruher SC in Bundesliga 2, were all with Betis at the time.
Among the 11 cleared are former Espanyol captain Sergio Garcia, ex-Osasuna skipper Francisco Punal and current Osasuna coach Petar Vasiljevic.
Several Espanyol players were investigated after their 1-1 draw with Osasuna on the penultimate matchday but the judge said there was no evidence that the game had been fixed.
The court statement added: “The information has been passed on to the prosecutor and to the plaintiffs, Osasuna and the Spanish Football League (LFP), so that within 20 days they present their written arguments against the 18 investigated, for which the process continues.”
($1 = 0.9368 euros)
Reporting by Adriana Garcia,; Editing by Neville Dalton