The Salvadoran soccer federation turned heads around the world on Wednesday with the announcement that 22 of the nation's players, 20 of them past or present El Salvador internationals, have been provisionally suspended for 30 days under suspicion of match-fixing.
The Federación Salvadoreña de Fútbol, widely known as FESFUT, cited an internal investigation which found signs of tampering with the results of several matches, including Salvadoran U-20 and senior national team games.
While not everyone on the list is believed to have actively participated in an effort to fix the matches, further and more severe punishments are likely to be handed out in the weeks ahead as FESFUT works with FIFA and Salvadoran government authorities to gather more detailed information.
"Among [the suspended players] there may be three types of situations," read the federation's statement. "First, they may have known of an attempt to unfairly influence the outcome of a match...There may be elements where there is proof that they have received money to influence the party, and there is the third possibility of people not participating in these meetings, but who come to try to influence the outcome of that game."
The list of players includes several with MLS ties: Ramón Sánchez, a midfielder who spent time with the San Jose Earthquakes, former Chivas USA loanee Osael Romero, and onetime D.C. United regulars Christian Castillo and Eliseo Quintanilla.
Also implicated is Rodolfo Zelaya, the Cuscatlecos attacker who drew strong interest from MLS clubs through his outstanding performances in the last two editions of the Gold Cup, and Dennis Alas, who spent time in the United States as a marquee signing with former USL Second Division club Real Maryland.
CONCACAF subsequently released a statement in response to the situation.
"CONCACAF is deeply saddened by these claims of match manipulation within the football community," it read. "The Confederation fully supports the Football Federation of El Salvador and other pertinent organizations involved in the above mentioned investigation and hopes for a fair due process in order to determine the validity of these accusations."