A club you’ve barely heard of, Osasuna, has been on the front page of every single major newspaper in Spain.
Reports have been coming out for weeks that the league has been investigating Osasuna for match-fixing in 2012 and 2013. This week, former Osasuna director Angel Vizcay came out and blew the whistle on the whole story. Basically, he admitted that Osasuna paid teams and individual players to beat their opponents, a practice which has been common in Spain for sometime now, but also that they paid teams to lose. He went so far as to name names, accusing Real Betis players Jordi Figueres and Antonio Amaya, Sergio Garcia, the longtime Espanyol star, as well as Osasuna’s Patxi Punal and Damia. Punal was Osasuna’s captain for many years.
This looks really really bad and is just the latest story that confirms what everyone’s known for years, that Spain has one of the most poorly run leagues in Europe. This kind of thing wouldn’t happen if the state of the league was in better shape. But with all the teams pretty much broke, the stadiums largely empty, and players leaving every year for richer leagues in England and Germany, it’s not a surprise that the ones left behind would be tempted to sell out for a little extra cash.
I mean, say you make a decent living by being a professional player in Spain. You’re by no means rich. Would you maybe let in a goal in a game that means nothing to your club in exchange for 300,000 euros? You’d definitely consider it.
The strange thing is that while the state of the league is in shambles, the quality of Spanish soccer’s player development has never been better. It’s what’s keeping these teams afloat. But this won’t last forever, and if the league doesn’t clean up its act it could end up like Serie A — basically irrelevant. I’m not holding my breath.