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FIFA bans coach for 2 years in World Cup match-fixing case

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA has banned a former El Salvador coach for two years for his role in offering players money to perform well in a World Cup qualifying game, and thereby help his native Honduras.

FIFA ethics committee judges found Ramon Maradiaga guilty of “bribery and corruption” and failing to report the plot, soccer’s world governing body said Wednesday.

El Salvador’s players were offered cash by a third party if they managed to win – or at least avoid losing by two goals or more – in a qualifier against Canada in September 2016. A big defeat risked helping Canada progress ahead of Honduras. It’s against FIFA rules for third parties to offer cash incentives to teams.

FIFA said Maradiaga let the meeting happen “in which financial compensation was promised to the players in exchange for their altering the result of the game between El Salvador and Canada.”

However, El Salvador players revealed the cash offer at a news conference before the game in Vancouver.

Maradiaga captained Honduras at the 1982 World Cup, the first time the Central American qualified for the tournament.

He was also fined 20,000 Swiss francs ($20,000), FIFA said.

Honduras progressed from the regional qualifying group by drawing 0-0 with Mexico in its final game, meaning Canada could not advance despite a 3-1 win over El Salvador.

Honduras ultimately did not qualify for the World Cup in Russia, losing an intercontinental playoff against Australia last November.

A previous match-fixing scandal forced El Salvador to rebuild its national team for the 2018 qualifying program.

FIFA imposed a range of lifetime bans and other suspensions on players who were involved in fixing games, including a 5-0 loss to Mexico at the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup.

Epic fail: Soccer refs banned after match-fixing goes wrong

Peter Byrne/PA via AP
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BLANTYRE, Malawi (AP) Four soccer referees in the southern African country of Malawi have been banned for life for match-fixing after they received just $20 between them to fix a game and returned $15 to the team doing the bribing because it still lost.

Referee Aziz Nyirenda, assistant referees Limbani Chisambi and Stephano Gomani, and fourth official Jimmy Phiri, were all found guilty of fixing a national cup match between lower league team Nchalo United and Chitipa United.

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The match-fixing was revealed after Nchalo United, the team that bribed the refs, lost in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw and demanded its money back. When the referees could only stump up $15, Nchalo went to the authorities.

No sanctions have been announced against the team but there is a case against Nchalo pending.

The life ban for the four officials was announced by the Malawian referees association.

Although the result wasn’t what they were aiming for, Malawi National Referees Association general secretary Chris Kalichero said there was still an “element of game-fixing” by the officials and “when you commit such a crime, a life ban is the punishment.”

Chisambi, one of the assistant referees, denied wrongdoing, saying “”I never took (a) share of the money. It is so sad that my career has ended in this manner.”

Last year, another referee in Malawi was banned for life for incompetence.

Interpol freezes money donated by FIFA; FIFA inexplicably stunned that Interpol would worry

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It’s one thing for Interpol to have a partnership with an organization many think might be shady, but another thing altogether to appear linked with one being investigated by the FBI.

Interpol, the international police agency, has frozen the $22.5 million donated by FIFA in 2011 as part of a program to police match-fixing in football.

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Seeing that FIFA is under suspicion of being involved in fixing any number of things, from matches to tournament-hosting, in the sport, Interpol’s thinking it’ll find its money somewhere else (Its annual budget is more than $85 million).

Of course, FIFA says the program is “unrelated” to its current well-documented struggles.

From Associated Press:

FIFA seemed to be stunned by the move, and said it was “reaching out” to the Lyon, France-based Interpol for talks.

“This successful program is unrelated to the current issues surrounding FIFA and we believe that this unilateral decision will negatively impact the fight against criminal activity,” FIFA said in a statement.

Last week, Interpol issued a global alert about two former FIFA officials and four marketing executives who face racketeering conspiracy charges in the United States.

That anything “stuns” FIFA is among the more unintentionally-hilarious things we’ll read today.

Yes, FIFA is somehow still surprised that large global organizations are concerned about having relationships with soccer’s governing body. Perhaps FIFA could’ve better prepared a statement if they hadn’t lost their spokesman to a joke.

You keep doing you, FIFA.

Spanish report: Manchester United’s Herrera implicated in 2011 La Liga match fix

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Marca report raises loads of questions regarding a match between Real Zaragoza and Levante on the final day of the 2011 season, and one of those queries involves a current Manchester United player.

Ander Herrera, the high-profile Red Devils transfer from Athletic Bilbao last season, was 22 at the time and a member of Zaragoza, which entered the final weekend in the drop zone, while Levante was 12th yet by no means safe in a tight battle for La Liga safety.

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The claims are that Zaragoza players were given money to pass along to Levante players to throw the match, and Herrera is being dragged into the mix as someone who was paid (but returned the money). Zaragoza rolled in the match.

Some punishments for match-fixing in Spain include jail time, so this is theoretically significant.

From 101greatgoals:

Zaragoza went into the final day in danger of relegation and it is alleged that 12 Levante players were each paid €120,000 to throw the game by their Real Zaragoza counterparts.

Twelve Zaragoza player are alleged to have received €120,000 in their account, which they were to pass on individually to the Levante opposition.

It is suggested in Marca today that Herrera is now under investigation for receiving funds from ex-Real Zaragoza president Agapito Iglesias but not declaring it to the Anti-Corruption unit, despite returning the cash.

Ander Herrera started for Real Zaargoza on May 21, 2011 against Levante and the current Manchester United midfielder played 72 minutes of the match.

And if Herrera was involved in any sort of fix other than “bonus money” to win the game, it’s obviously not a good development. Atletico Madrid captain Gabi admitted to receiving money while then on-loan to Zaragoza.

The game chart says the Aragonian side was dominant in the match. Check this in-game screengrab from Eurosport, specifically the first few lines:

source:

 

Yep, that’s two goals ruled out for offsides before Zaragoza scored one that counted (in the opposite direction of the alleged fix). Without looking at the video, it’s impossible to know whether the players were legit offsides, and there’s no way for officials to fix a free kick goal — once it’s awarded — is there?

It’s not a new story, but Herrera’s name being involved is a development and makes it an interesting story to follow. Still it’s hard to conclusively say anything.

Convicted match-fixer claims Cameroon players fixed World Cup games

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Well this isn’t good.

A convicted match-fixer tells German magazine Der Spiegel that up to seven Cameroon players were involved in fixing their group matches at the World Cup this year.

The Indomitable Lions looked poor in defeats by Mexico, Brazil and Croatia.

In one match, Alex Song was sent off and detained match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumal of Singapore correctly told authorities there would be a sending-off and 4-0 score line.

From the BBC:

A statement from Cameroon’s FA read: “Recent allegations of fraud around Cameroon’s 2014 Fifa World Cup three preliminary games, especially Cameroon versus Croatia, as well of the ‘existence of seven bad apples [in our national team]’ do not reflect the values and principles promoted by our administration, in line with Fifa’s code of conduct and the ethics of our nation.

“We are strongly committed to employ all means necessary to resolve this disruptive matter in the shortest delays.”

The investigation will form part of a wider inquiry ordered by the country’s president, Paul Biya, into the team’s poor performance at the World Cup.

Fifa did not comment on whether it was looking into the issue as football’s world governing body did not want to “compromise any possible investigations”.

Cameroon players initially refused to board their plane to World Cup in protest of unpaid bonuses, and these allegations certainly contend that money ruled their roost once they crossed the Atlantic.

The Indomitable Lions lost 1-0 to Mexico, 4-1 to Brazil and 4-0 to Croatia.

This is the part in the post where we’re supposed to sum up what this means in a wise and clever way to transmit the news in a digestible fashion. Here’s what I’m giving you: if this is true, it stinks.