‘Osasuna Case’: The Supreme Court establishes that bonuses to third parties for winning are not a crime | Sports

The former manager of Osasuna, Ángel Vizcay, leaves the courts.  of Navarra in January 2020.
The former manager of Osasuna, Ángel Vizcay, leaves the courts. of Navarra in January 2020.Jesus Diges (EFE)

Bonuses to third parties for winning cannot be considered a crime. Neither of who pays nor of who receives them. This has been established by the Supreme Court in a sentence in which it confirms the sentence of the nine defendants of the so-called Osasuna case, but slightly lowers the penalties considering that the bonuses for winning that were agreed in this case cannot be criminally punished. Yes they are, on the other hand, the premiums for losing. “A player can, with his performance, as a possible option, lose a match, but not win it. And he cannot win it because it does not depend exclusively on his will, but on other factors. And what cannot be achieved voluntarily, because it is impossible, cannot be criminally punishable either”, warns the Supreme Court.

The high court thus intends to settle the discrepancies between courts that existed until now on the bonuses that encouraged the victory of a third party to benefit another team. In the first sentence in the Osasuna case, the Provincial Court of Navarra sentenced nine people in April 2020 -former directors of Osasuna and two former Betis players- for agreeing to fix two games in the final stretch of the 2013-2014 season. The Navarrese team was on the verge of relegation and its directors contacted the then Betis players Antonio Amaya and Álex Torres and agreed to pay them 650,000 euros so that they would beat Valladolid (which was also fighting for permanence) and lose against Osasuna. The results were met, but the Pamplona team failed to maintain the category.

The sentence of the Audiencia de Navarra condemned nine of the 11 defendants who sat on the bench for sports corruption, and punished them both for the bonuses they agreed for Betis to beat Valladolid and for those they agreed to let them lose with Osasuna. The convicted persons appealed to the Supreme Court and the court has partially admitted their appeals, concluding that the bonuses for winning cannot be punished as a crime, which has led them to reduce the sentences, which previously ranged from one to eight years and eight months in prison. , and now there are between 10 months and 5 years and 10 months in prison. The highest sentence is the one imposed on the former manager of Osasuna, Ángel María Vizcay, convicted of crimes of aggravated misappropriation, falsehood and sports corruption. Former President Miguel Ángel Archando (5 and a half years); former Vice President Juan Antonio Pascual Leache (4 years and 10 months); former director Jesús Peralta (5 years). The treasurer Sancho Bandrés (4 years); two real estate agents, Cristina Valencia and Albert Nolla (6 months); and the two former Betis players involved (10 months).

In its resolution, the Supreme Court establishes how article 286 of the Criminal Code must be interpreted, which punishes “the directors, administrators, employees or collaborators of a sports entity, whatever its legal form, as well as athletes, referees or judges, with respect to those conducts whose purpose is to deliberately and fraudulently predetermine or alter the result of a test, meeting or sporting competition of special relevance”. Although this precept, in its literality, does not exclude the bonus for winning a match or limit the crime to letting yourself lose, the court considers that it must be understood that way. “The obligation of every athlete is to go out and win a match, so it would not be logical that the bonuses for fulfilling his obligation were criminally typical. No one would understand that seeing some players play ‘well, or very well’ on the field, or on the tennis court, can be subject to a criminal sanction, and this even if such behavior is the result of an extra-sports bonus. Here the bonus is not penalized, but the behavior on the field of play, “says the sentence, for which magistrate Julián Sánchez Melgar has been a rapporteur.

The opposite occurs with the premiums for losing, which, furthermore, according to the court, are a crime from the moment they are agreed, regardless of the final result. “The behavior of winning, even financially encouraged by the bonus, is what every athlete must observe; while that of losing is anomalous in itself, because it is fraudulent and improper”.

The Supreme Court’s decision does not affect the administrative rules on premiums. The court itself points out that, if it is considered that the bonuses for winning are reprehensible, this punishment must be limited to administrative law, with sanctions such as those established by the Sports Law, the League statutes or the RFEF sports discipline regulations.

You can follow EL PAÍS Sports on Facebook Y Twitteror sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter.