Tennis Star Feliciano López Denies Match-Fixing Claims Arising from Police Phone-Tapping of Ex-La Liga Player

Posted on: June 20, 2019, 01:54h. 

Last updated on: June 20, 2019, 01:56h.

Feliciano López, formerly ranked 12th in world tennis, has angrily denied allegations of match-fixing against him and his doubles partner, Marc López, which surfaced on Spanish news site El Confidencial on Tuesday.

Feliciano López
Feliciano López denies any links between himself and two ex-La Liga soccer players — one a former Spanish international — arrested in May on suspicion of match-fixing. (Image: BBC)

Speaking at the Queens Club Championships in London on Thursday, before he was due to take to the court in a doubles match with Andy Murray, López vowed that he would do “everything within my power to defend myself against any such false accusations.”

According to documents seen by El Confidencial, the allegations were uncovered by Spanish police during their investigation of two former pro Spanish soccer players, Raul Bravo, who played for Real Madrid and was capped 14 times for Spain, and Carlos Aranda, who played for Villarreal.

Bravo and Aranda, both 38, were arrested in late May on suspicion of corruption — allegedly conspiring, with others, to fix three matches in the first, second, and third tiers of Spanish soccer for the benefit of a betting syndicate.

Incriminating Phone Calls?

In July 2017, while police were monitoring Aranda’s phone calls, he was heard to pass on a betting tip to an unknown associate, while demanding he receive 50 percent commission on the associate’s winnings, according to El Confidencial.

The tip was that Feliciano López and his partner would lose their Wimbledon matchup against Australians Matt Reid and John Patrick Smith.

Asked by his friend how much he should bet, Aranda said since this was Wimbledon and the betting volume was huge, it wouldn’t matter because suspicious bets would not be detected.

The Spanish pair, who had won the French Open just the year before, did indeed lose to the unseeded Australian underdogs.

Shortly after the match, Aranda called a different associate to gloat over the result, appearing to revel in his ability to call the outcome of such a high-profile match.

But suspicious betting patterns were detected in the match and many bookmakers suspended their markets on it.

López Denies Knowing Soccer Players

On Thursday, López denied any link between him or his namesake doubles partner and the events described in the El Confidencial article, adding that he had never met Carlos Aranda or Raul Bravo.

“Unfortunately, all tennis players are public figures and exposed to having our good name used beyond our control.” he said.

Marc and I had immediately contacted the TIU [Tennis Integrity Unit] to fully cooperate, and they confirmed that there had been no investigation about that match at Wimbledon 2017,” he added. “We have full faith in the TIU and the role they play protecting our sport.”

Tennis has been rocked by match-fixing scandals over the past few years, although these have tended to occur in the lower echelons of the game, where young pros struggle to earn a living.

In January, French police arrested Romanian Grigor Sargsyan, known to tennis players as “The Maestro,” who is suspected of fronting a massive match-fixing operation that targeted low-level tournaments and convinced over 100 players to throw “hundreds” of matches for cash.