Monday, September 6, 2010

Hercules sweat, Cadiz complain & Real Betis look on with interest

Barely had everyone connected with Hercules CF begun their promotion celebrations before rumours began to circulate about "extra-curricular" activities during the season just passed involving payments allegedly made to secure wins. Before very long these rumours gained traction and appeared in print, forcing one or two of those featured prominently in the allegations to issue public denials.

Tote pictured recently
The embarrassing distraction for Hercules CF began some weeks earlier, when, a wider investigation into political corruption in and around Costa Blanca cities Orihuela and Alicante unearthed taped recordings of the football club officials discussing payment of large sums of money to opposing players to throw crucial games. Majority shareholder of Hercules, Enrique Ortiz, was apparently captured on tape at least four times talking about bribes and how they could be made available. In addition, various text messages between Ortiz and team captain Jorge López Marco (Tote) and senior player Abraham Paz also emerged and make incriminating reading. Leading up to the promotion chasing Alicante side's match last season against Cordoba, opposing goalkeeper Raul Navas allegedly trousered 100,000 € to throw the game, Tote is alleged to have said, amongst other things "get the money ready for this lot, we have to pass it to them on Sunday"

In addition, Ortiz is also alleged to have offered 20,000 € apiece to two Gimnàstic de Tarragona players to win matches against Hercules direct promotion opponents. On this occasion, Tote allegedly demands "Enrique (Ortiz) pay 'Nastic all the money tomorrow, they're going to screw everything up" On another occasion one message reveals an un-named team refused to take a bribe and Tote is recorded suggesting Ortiz pay his Hercules team-mates using the words "give something to this lot so they play their best, the others won't take it because they're ready on 300,000 € to beat us"

Tote leads the promotion celebrations
In the midst of all the press reporting of the case, a beligerant Tote broke cover to say "Let them prove it if it's all true. And if they do, they can punish us, but they won't because there's nothing in it" He went on “I don’t know what the judge’s latest decision is and I don’t care,” said Tote. “I’m not a politician and none of it interests me. When they feel like it the talk will end and meanwhile, we’ll attend to our business, which is to play in La Liga. We earned it by being better than the rest.”

Relegated Cadiz lodged a formal complaint with the Spanish football association, (RFEF) citing “a supposed infraction of article 75 of the RFEF disciplinary code, consisting of predetermination of results.” The RFEF  began their own fact finding investigation with a request for the tapes and transcripts of the text messages. This request was denied by three High Court Judges who refused to allow the tapes to be sent to the RFEF and the Spanish Higher Sports Council (CSD) because those same tapes "breech the fundamental right to privacy of the individual, one of the most important components of the Spanish Constitution" Without them as evidence any CSD/RFEF investigation would have been completely toothless.

The full story, including legal argument is here

Football fans in the provincial capital enjoy a civic reception for the team
Meanwhile, Cadiz resigned themselves to starting the 2010/11 season in the Segunda A, and Real Betis, the principle beneficiaries of any points deductions for Hercules, who appear to have got out of jail, maintained their discreet silence as the matter was gently swept under the murky Machiavellian carpet of lower league Spanish football.

The photographs in this article were reproduced courtesy of

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