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Jul 24, 2013

El Salvador to probe match-fixing

Based on comments El Salvador captain Victor Turcios made to ESPN Deportes on Sunday alleging match-fixing in his country, the El Salvador Football Federation (FESFUT, by its Spanish acronym) said it will request a meeting with Turcios.

"Our team is implicated in match-fixing, and we can't hide from it," Turcios told ESPN Deportes. "At this [Gold] Cup, there was the pressure of the match-fixing. FIFA is investigating our federation. They are watching every time a goal is scored because there is match-fixing and we can't hide from it. If FIFA is investigating our federation, it is because something is happening."

El Salvador was eliminated from Gold Cup 2013 play Sunday following a 5-1 loss to the United States. Turcios made his comments at that match. During first-round action earlier this month, two Belize players said they were offered money to fix a Gold Cup match against the United States. FIFA and CONCACAF said the man trying to fix the matches has since been identified. FIFA investigated reports of fixed matches at the 2011 Gold Cup as well.

FESFUT said via press release Tuesday that it would remain "firm in the fight against match-fixing" and that it would ask Turcios to pass along any information he might have, clarifying that it is "not a witch hunt against the players" but rather a way to solve any corruption problems that may exist.

Ernesto Gochez, a FESFUT national team coordinator, said the federation "suggested" that former coach Juan de Dios Castillo leave a player off the national team for 2012 friendlies versus Jamaica and Guatemala. The player, whom Castillo named in an ESPN Deportes "E:60" interview in November as Jose Mardoqueo Henriquez, was suspected of match-fixing, although nothing was ever proved. FESFUT allowed Henriquez to be included on the team for a July 24, 2012, match versus Roma in New Jersey, but Gochez said Tuesday that FESFUT recommended Henriquez be left off the team until the "waves subsided." Henriquez played for El Salvador in Gold Cup 2013.

"For El Salvador, we have read reports but we have no evidence. But we are investigating with FIFA and Interpol. We want any players who are offered match-fixing to do the same thing the Belize players did, report it," said CONCACAF general secretary Enrique Sainz last week. "We are asking any players who are approached to report it immediately.

"Match-fixing is not always the result. Sometimes they convince the players to have a corner kick in the first 15 minutes. Sometimes it seems innocent, but it is not. Lots of life situations start with small deceptions and then grow. But we are stressing that any situation must be stopped. We want also to have the protocol in place so people can report it. In the American continent, we have the doors closed and it is tougher to fix matches in this region."

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