Peruvian football referee investigated over match fixing claims

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The Peruvian Football Federation (FPF) has removed Liga 1’s referee Miguel Santiváñez due to an ongoing investigation related to match fixing. The referee has been accused of manipulating games in Liga 2, the second tier.

An integrity body independent from the FPF is already investigating the case and will report the results to the South American Football Confederation (CONMEBOL).

The investigation started after authorities arrested Juan Edmundo Merino Aurich, former president of the Juan Aurich club, due to extortion claims. They found text messages between Merino Aurich and the referee, in which they planned to manipulate Liga 2’s 2020 semi-final match between Alianza Atlético de Sullana and Sport Chavelines.

As reported by El Comercio, the details that the authorities found in the conversations are consistent with what happened during the match. After favoring Alianza Atlético, the team secured a spot in Peru’s top tier.

Additionally, in one of the conversations there was a message from Santiváñez where it is believed that he admitted to having called for a penalty kick to favor the team and also finish the match in the 90th minute.

Although Liga 1 declined to comment due to the ongoing investigation, Liga 2 President Arturo Sánchez said to Exitosa Deportes radio that he discussed the issue with the FPF president and asked him to investigate “thoroughly”.

“We are disgusted. You can’t [simplify this]. We’ve heard about this many years ago, but there has never been evidence like this. It has to be investigated,” he said.

“You have to analyze what is happening with the National Referee Commission (CONAR), you have to investigate the authorities. There’s corrupt people. If this is true, [we] need a complete transformation in Peru’s football because it’s not just about Liga 2, it’s also about Liga 2 and the Copa Perú. I don’t think this is an isolated event.”