A Spanish judge has opened an investigation into the possible use of false passports by two basketball players from Real Madrid and Fuenlabrada, it has been heard from judicial sources, a practice that could allow them to circumvent the limitation of non-EU players in each team.
The investigation for “falsification of official documents” is aimed at the American pivot Marcus Slaughter, former player of the Real Madrid basketball section currently playing in Darussafaka Istanbul (Turkey), and the American winger or pivot Andy Panko, recruited since by Nancy (ProA).
The Madrid judge in charge of the inquiry asked by letter to hear the two players under indictment.
According to the Catalan daily paper La Vanguardia and the sports newspaper Mundo Deportivo, which revealed the affair, the two basketball players were playing in Spain with a passport from Equatorial Guinea bearing the same number, “AA001696”, which sharpened the suspicions of the federation. Nationals of this African country are not considered as non-EU nationals under an international convention.
Vanguardia has published on its website a letter addressed to the Spanish justice system by the Embassy of Equatorial Guinea, which states that the two identity documents in question “are not legal, but falsified using fraudulent methods”.
The Spanish Basketball Championship limits the number of non-EU players in each squad to two.
This scandal, if confirmed, could have serious consequences. In Spain, penalty for falsification of identity documents is punishable from six months to two years in prison. And, in sporting terms, several clubs could also consider themselves injured by Real Madrid, winner of the 2015 UEFA Euroleague-Liga King’s Cup trio.
FC Barcelona, beaten in the final of the King of Basketball Cup, announced on Monday in a statement that they will be suing in this case. “These facts, if confirmed, would presume that the competitions have been seriously altered,” the Catalan club wrote.
The Spanish Basketball League (ACB) also announced that it was a civil party in the criminal investigation regarding fake identity documents and that it would bring the case before the competition judge of the Spanish Basketball Federation (FEB) to decide “to open disciplinary proceedings if necessary”.