The El Salvador Football Association has confirmed the national team’s players were offered financial incentives before Tuesday’s World Cup 2018 qualifying game against Canada.
At a news conference El Salvador’s captain Nelson Bonilla, played a recording in which Salvadoran businessman Ricardo Padilla promised various amounts of money to players depending on the result.
The El Salvador players were reportedly promised $30 for each minute played in a win, $20 for each minute played in a draw, $15 for each minute played in a 1-0 loss, and nothing if the team loses by two goals or more.
“In reference to what we heard, we want to make it clear that we are against anything of this kind,” Bonilla said. Adding: “We want to be transparent about everything that has happened with the national team.”
A heavy defeat could have seen Canada progress at the expense of El Salvador’s neighbors Honduras, if El Salvador lost by a wide enough margin. As events unfolded Canada won 3-1, but Honduras went through with a 0-0 draw against Mexico.
Padilla, a former president of El Salvador club Alianza FC, denied the charges and claims that he was not asking the players to match-fix.
“Let them investigate. Those who want to see it as something bad can see it that way and those who want to see it as something good then they can too,” he told La Prensa Grafica.
Investigative journalist Declan Hill recalled the dramatic events to the BBC. “The entire team came in with their coaches and said they had been approached on Saturday,” he said.
“They played an 11-minute conversation with the attempted match-fixer. He was offering each player a variety of money per minute depending on the result they could get. The most they would have got for allegedly fixing the match would have been about $3,000 per player.”
World football governing body FIFA and regional confederation CONCACAF, which governs football in Central and North America and the Caribbean, have confirmed they are investigating.
CONCACAF said in a statement that it “is aware of the claims made by El Salvador’s national team in relation to their upcoming qualifying match for the 2018 FIFA World Cup” and is looking into the matter.
CONCACAF did not release any details, saying: “No further information can be given at this moment in order not to jeopardize any possible investigations.”
El Salvador have been involved in match fixing in the past. In 2013 fourteen of the national team’s players were slapped with lifetime bans due to their involvement with match fixing in four international games, including a 2-1 friendly loss to the US national team in 2010.