Earlier today we told you about the plight of the Belize National Soccer Team as it tries to raise funds to meet travel expenses in the Gold Cup. Now comes a story that some players on the Jaguars were approached to take money if they lost to the United States Tuesday night in Portland. The United States won by a comfortable 6-1 margin.
This revelation came to light from ESPN Deportes Jorge Ramos via this tweet (in Spanish) that they were offered up to 10,000 Euros to help alter the outcome of the match:
El centrocampista de Belice Ian Gaynair “El hombre ofrecio a Woodrow West y a mi Euros 10.000 previo al partido ante #USMNT“
— Jorge Ramos & Banda (@ESPN_JorgeRamos) July 10, 2013
It appears the Belize players were on record as early as Monday about a man approaching them and offering them money via this report from inside the country. Take the report for what you will since the match-fixing news ranks as the fourth most important item, one rung below the fact the team was in “high spirits.” The report contains this quote from Belize player Ian Gaynair:
“He started talking that we don’t really stand a chance to beat the U.S so he wanted us to promise him that we would lose the game and that he would give us a large amount of money to change our lives in Belize and to help our families.
Gaynair said the players turned down the money based in part on national pride and the fear of a lifetime FIFA ban:
“Like I told him, ‘we can’t take that money’ because at the end of the day our entire country is behind us and we just made history for these big games so we can’t just sell out our country for a little bit of money. At the end of the day we might not be making a lot of money in Belize but still we have to look at our career and our future.”
Match-fixing in soccer remains a very thorny issue for the globally for the sport. A report earlier this year revealed 680 “suspect” results. A low-key game like the one between the U.S. and Belize in the middle of July would fit the profile for match-fixers. Nobody would raise an eyebrow if Belize lost something in the range of 8-0 or 9-0. On top of that, there are numerous allegations match-fixers had their hands over all the 2011 Gold Cup.
That said, trying to get the Belize — a team made up almost entirely of semi-pro players with day jobs — to take a dive against the United States seems bizarre at first glance. Bar a 1,000-to-1 chance, the U.S. is going to win this game. Most likely the man’s plan — we don’t know if he was working alone or part of one of the global syndicates — was to have Belize lose by a certain amount of goals, which is how the bulk of match-fixing takes place.
Whatever the plan, let’s applaud the Belize players for not taking the money and maybe kick in a little to their PayPal account as they journey across the United States. [h/t @j85royals]