l Salvador national team players revealed on Monday at a press conference in Vancouver that they were offered money if they managed one of three specific results in Tuesday’s World Cup qualifier against Canada at BC Place (10 pm ET; TSN in Canada).
The players played an audio recording of a man offering to pay them if they won, draw or lost 1-0 to Canada on Tuesday. Team captain Nelson Bonilla said they rejected the offer and that they revealed it because they wanted to be clear they “are against these things.”
The El Salvador-Canada game will be played concurrently with the Mexico-Honduras matchup. Mexico have already clinched the group title, while El Salvador have already been eliminated from Hexagonal contention.
Honduras and Canada are battling for the group’s final spot in the Hexagonal. Honduras currently hold the pole position – for Canada to advance, they must beat El Salvador, Mexico must beat Honduras and Canada must make up a five goals on Honduras in goal differential. A full breakdown of all the different scenarios that would put Canada in the Hex can be found here.
A Canada loss or draw would ensure Honduras a spot in the Hexagonal, while a 1-0 win for Canada against El Salvador would mean Honduras could lose by up to four goals in Mexico City and still move on.
The Salvadoran players said they were offered the money by Salvadoran businessman and former president of Club Alianza Ricardo Padilla on Saturday at their hotel in San Salvador. Padilla told the players that he represented a wealthy Honduran who wanted to ensure his country advanced to the Hexagonal, and told Salvadoran outlet La Prensa that he did make the offer.
Fourteen El Salvador national team players received lifetime bans in 2013 due to match fixing.
The players said that Padilla's offer would have paid $30 per player per minute played for a win, $20 per player per minute played for a draw and $15 per player per minute played for a 1-0 loss. Respectively, the offers would’ve paid $2,700, $1,800 and $1,450 for 90-minute performances.
A FIFA spokesperson told MLSsoccer.com in a statement that the organization is aware of the claims and is looking into the matter.
"FIFA is aware of the claims made by the El Salvadorian national football squad in relation to match fixing at the qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup," the spokesperson wrote in an email. "In co-operation with the respective [organizations] and authorities, FIFA is looking into this matter.
"FIFA does not comment on whether or not investigations are underway into alleged cases of match manipulation so as not to compromise any possible investigations."
CONCACAF provided MLSsoccer.com with a similar statement on the matter.
"CONCACAF is aware of the claims made by El Salvador’s national team in relation to their upcoming qualifying match for the 2018 FIFA World Cup," said a spokesperson. "In cooperation with FIFA, we are currently looking into this matter. No further information can be given at this moment in order not to jeopardize any possible investigations."
One MLS player, San Jose Earthquakes midfielder Darwin Ceren, is on El Salvador’s current roster. Ceren, who has served as El Salvador captain in the past, was seated next to Bonilla at Monday’s press conference. The full press conference, which was conducted in Spanish, can be seen below: