This is the first ruling handed down in Spain that condemned sports corruption
MADRID, 15 Nov. (EUROPA PRESS) -
The Supreme Court will hold a hearing this Wednesday from 10:30 a.m. to review the appeals filed against the ruling of the 'Osasuna case' issued by the Navarra Court, which considered it proven that members of the Osasuna Board of Directors agreed to give priority to former players from Betis Antonio Amaya and Xabi Torres in order to "alter the results of the sports competition".
This ruling, issued in April 2020 by the Second Section of the Provincial Court of Navarra, was the first in Spain to condemn for the crime of sports corruption. The sentence established that the leaders of the Navarrese team paid "a total of 650,000 euros" to the Betis players to "encourage their victory against Real Valladolid on matchday 37 of the 2013/2014 season" and to let them "win in the match that pitted them against Osasuna on matchday 38".
The sentences for crimes of misappropriation, false commercial documents, false accounting and sports corruption ranged from a total of 8 years and 8 months in prison that were imposed on the then manager of Osasuna, Ángel Vizcay, and one year in prison for that the two soccer players, Antonio Amaya and Xabier Torres, were sentenced for the crime of sports corruption.
The magistrates of the Audiencia de Navarra specified that there were two very different sections in the facts. On the one hand, those referring to the aspect of the financial management of the club, which included the crimes of misappropriation, document falsification and accounting falsification, and on the other, the one referring to the crime of sports corruption.
In relation to the management of the club, the sentence considered it accredited that during the seasons under trial, the convicted persons made a "conscious use and abuse" of the club's funds, failing to comply with the obligations imposed by its statutes, making improper use of the accounts through unjustified money extractions as well as the cash that was handled and that came from store sales, ticket offices and subscriptions.
According to the ruling, the total amount defrauded that could be proven amounted to 2,340,000 euros: 900,000 euros corresponding to the 2012/2013 season and 1,440,000 euros from the 2013/2014 season. In addition, it was considered proven that Ángel Vizcay had an amount of 600,000 euros.
The destination of the money could not be determined, the ruling added, except for the amounts that were used to fix the two parties. To this must be added the amounts that Miguel Ángel Archanco charged for allowances for an amount of 1,000 euros and Jesús Peralta for an amount of 2,600.80 euros, according to the sentence.
The falsifications of both seasons, the same one continued, had the purpose of balancing the accounts. In the 2012/2013 season, the imbalance was 900,000 euros and for this, real estate agents Cristina Nolla and Albert Nolla were contacted, who signed a receipt for that amount, pretending to have non-existent real estate activities as their object.
In the 2013/2014 season, the imbalance in the club's accounts amounted to 1,440,000 euros and that is why the false contract with the Portuguese entity Flelfield and the three false invoices were created. The creation of these documents with the Portuguese entity was carried out when the board of directors had already resigned and the management board was already in place. The room considered that it was Vizcay who created them to balance the accounts for this season and thus obtain a favorable audit report.
The acquittal of Diego Maquirriain for the crime of misappropriation was based on the lack of proof that he really knew the improper destination of the amount of 400,000 euros that he transferred from Pamplona to Seville and that was used to pay the two Betis players. Likewise, he considered the sentence that there was no room for sentencing him as a necessary cooperator in the crime of sports corruption because it had already been consummated at the time the money was transferred.
In relation to the crime of sports corruption, the ruling concluded that there was an agreement between the convicted Board members and the club manager with the two Real Betis players, not only to encourage their victory against Real Valladolid, but also to they let them win in the last league game that was going to face them against Osasuna, therefore it was a global agreement. Thus, it was considered proven through the study of testimonial and expert evidence that have revealed the contacts maintained and the meetings held for the delivery of the money.
The court reasoned that there was no evidence that would lead to the conclusion that the player Jordi Figueras participated in the facts that support the conviction for sports corruption.
The sentence settled that in the criminal precept that was the basis of the conviction, art. 286 bis, fourth section of the Penal Code included the so-called "third-party premiums". This was based on an exhaustive study of the aforementioned article and European and international standards on the subject.
It was argued that offering amounts or benefits to a club for winning a match sought its own advantage and produced a series of concatenated effects such as, among others, the damage to other teams that depend on those third-party results and the economic damages derived of bets or pools. Financial incentives from a third club to another to encourage a positive result, the ruling noted, influenced the competition.
The ruling also considered that the arguments that were given to consider premiums to third parties not criminally punishable were based on a social permissiveness towards them that is independent of whether they are considered a crime. The magistrates then recalled that the athlete's obligation does not simply refer to "going out to win" but to ensuring that the sporting result is produced in accordance with the mutually known and accepted prior rules, without external conditions not included in the rules that govern the corresponding Athletic discipline.