‘Levante’s captain can’t be bought’

Sergio Ballesteros has spoken for the first time since being implicated in the match fixing allegations against Levante, declaring his innocence.

Players at the club are currently facing an investigation into allegations that they may have been bought to deliberately lose their Week 31 home fixture with Deportivo, which finished 0-4 to the Galicians.

Ballesteros and a few other teammates have been implicated directly after it emerged that teammate Javier Barkero accused them at half-time and then in a team meeting the day after of ‘not trying’ in the game.

“The captain of Levante cannot be bought. I signed my first professional contract at 18 and now I am 37. I will be at Levante until I retire. End of point,” declared Ballesteros to reporters today, before commenting on Barkero’s accusations against him.

“You would have to ask him where he got his information from. To me, personally, he has said that he does not know why he did it. I have been included and I did not understand why. For me he has been an exemplary teammate until that day.

“Barkero has not been very clear in why I have been included in his alleged list. There is no explanation. If he does not have it, I cannot answer for him.

“I believe that people can make mistakes and correct them, if they have the heart. I think he has realised his mistake and I’m not a person so spiteful to not forgive this for the rest of my days.

“But what is clear is that I have had my dignity and my honour come into question.

“I have been studying the subject. If my lawyers think that there is a complain to make, I will. I will clean my honour. My career is not going to be smeared because of something that has not happened.”

The 37-year-old was asked of the possibility of him or Barkero leaving in the summer.

“I do not know if Barkero will continue here or not. I have a contract and I will continue fighting for this club as that is what I have always done, it is what I want most, it is my team and in me.

“Regardless of what might happen, I remain with this team to fight to the death for the objectives that we have.

“It is clear that this has hit the dressing room. But I think that this has always been a united group and we have four years in the Primera Division. That is not cheap. As the days pass, we will continue to have the same joy.

“I believe the President believes me. Trusts me. I will not reveal the private conversations that I have had with him, but I guarantee that he trusts in the team.

“I think the issue is having too much of an impact, which is also unfair, because I think all League finales are similar and there are always games when it is said that something is wrong.

“And towards the end I think that there are sometimes bad days. Teams have them when they get to their target and relax. I remember last year at home against Rayo Vallecano we conceded five. And in this same year we also conceded three goals in five minutes to Osasuna.

“We have collected just 12 points through the entire second half of the season, which means that we are not in the best of form. And now we want to just end the League as best we can.”

The veteran reflected on the support he has received from Levante fans.

“This has touched me so much, it has hurt me a lot. The last 15 days I have been very bad, sleeping very little, very sad, my family has noticed much and I am grateful to them for their support from the start, like the people who I have encountered on the street.

“The support has been strong, from people I know and those I do not. Therefore I am very proud to be in Levante. I did not think about leaving this team.”

Tags Ballesteros Barkero LFP Match-fixing