On Wednesday, reports surfaced that the latest match-fixing allegations now involved Belize, who had lost to the United States 6-1 in the opening match for both teams in the 2013 edition of the competition.
While it appears that those who were approached to fix the match played in Portland on Tuesday night turned down the offer(s), we should not just shrug this off so easily and dismiss it as a one-time occurrence. If anything, this latest match-fixing allegation highlights a continuing problem that CONCACAF still has not adequately addressed.
First and foremost, because the United States-Belize match ended up being as lopsided as it was expected does not mean such a match cannot be fixed. On the contrary, last night’s game is a perfect target for those who engage in match-fixing soccer games. And the reason being is you have several desirable elements.
The elements that made last night’s game an easy target for match-fixers to try and fix are that of a lopsided game on paper and a team of players from a relatively poor country who are not professional players. For those who do not bet, there are a number of different aspects of a soccer game in which you can bet on. A few of those are halftime score, full time score, margin of victory, and whether will be scored within a certain fifteen-minute interval.
As a result, match-fixers can approach players on a team like Belize, who are semi-professional players who work regular nine to five jobs and make a fraction of what the players on the United States team make prime targets to be bribed to fix a match.
Therefore, if a Belize player or two or three already knows it’s going to lose the game, why not cash in and in the process earn more for fixing a match than they would in a year? That is serious temptation for players of such profile.
This is why the final score of the game should not make anyone not think the match could not have been fixed or dismissed the possibility so easily that a fix could have happened when you include the teams involved.
Another reason that the match-fixing allegations made about last night’s Gold Cup game should not be dismissed is because such allegations in the competition are nothing new for CONCACAF. Back during the 2011 edition, it was reported about three games were alleged to have been fixed in some shape or form, with El Salvador as the main team signaled out for being involved.
As recently as October 2012, three players from Guatemala were given lifetime bans by FIFA for involvement in match-fixing in various competitions. While there was action taken in this particular case, it still does not and should not take away from the fact that CONCACAF still has an issue which it is largely turning a blind eye to as a confederation.
By extension, FIFA, despite having an early-warning system as it relates to match fixing and identifying potential match-fixing before it occurs, is at best a token and largely toothless effort(s) that still are not doing enough to adequately address this issue in the game.
So long as CONCACAF decides to hold the Gold Cup and a biennial basis and in the competition, you have a wide disparity between professional national teams and national teams with semi-pro players, this will be an issue. Add to it the largely toothless efforts by CONCACAF to deal with the issue, this will continue to persist during this competition.
While it appears that there was no match-fixing related to last night’s Gold Cup game, this does not mean that it could not have happened. On the contrary, last night’s game makes match-fixing possible and as long as CONCACAF does not make an effort to address it, get use to hearing more of these allegations during this edition of the tournament and future ones.