22 suspended during fixing probe
The El Salvador Football Federation on Wednesday dealt one-month bans to 22 top-level international players for their alleged involvement in a match-fixing scandal that includes games against the United States and Mexico.
El Salvador authorities raided the homes of 11 players in six cities Thursday after the suspensions were announced. Federal prosecutor Luis Martinez told Radio Nacional de El Salvador that computers, tablets and cellphones were among the items seized during the raids. He said authorities will also try to gain access to the bank accounts of those involved, both locally and abroad.
The prosecutor said there was already evidence of at least three offenses, including money laundering, and warned that not only players could be charged in the scheme.
"Possibly there are officials and some high-level people involved," Martinez said. "We are going to get to the bottom of it."
The matches under investigation are a 2-1 loss to the United States in a Tampa friendly in 2010, a 1-0 loss to DC United in Washington in 2010, losses to Mexico (5-0 at the 2011 Gold Cup) and Paraguay (4-1 in 2012) as well as an alleged attempt at match-fixing en route to the Under-20 World Cup.
Federation president Carlos Mendez said the suspensions were provisional based on the ongoing investigation and current information.
"We don't yet have a final decision, but we are investigating everything and will report to FIFA," he said. "We will give everyone involved in the investigation the right to an audience. This is provisional, it is not a sanction."
The banned players are Rodrigo Alejandro Martinez, Benji Villalobos, Ramon Flores, Emerson Umana, Carlos Carrillo, Carlos Romeo Monteagudo, Alfredo Pacheco, Dennis Alas, Mardoqueo Henriquez, Darwin Bonilla, Eliseo Quintanilla, Miguel Granadino, Rodolfo Zelaya, Dagoberto Portillo, Victor Turcios, Luis Anaya, Osael Romero, Ramon Sanchez, Christian Castillo, Marvin Gonzalez, Reynaldo Hernandez and Miguel Montes.
Two of the players play in Europe. Sanchez plays for Kazakhstan's FC Vostok, and Turcios is with Finland's Rovaniemen Palloseura. Turcios told ESPN Deportes last month that "there was pressure of match-fixing" at the 2013 Gold Cup.
Mendez said FIFA has been notified so that the suspensions could be extended internationally. He also said El Salvador will play no more games until the probes into the matches are completed. His investigative team in the federation includes Rafael Villacorta, Rafael Calderon, Manuel Aguilar and Julio Padilla.
Information from ESPN Deportes, E:60 and The Associated Press was used in this report.