22 El Salvador players suspended
Remember those match fixing allegations we all heard about a few weeks ago? Well they've resurfaced, and they're carrying some heavy weight. El Salvador's football federation has suspended 22 players in an ongoing match fixing investigation which is receiving assistance from the national prosecutor's office.
Among the suspended are players we saw throughout Gold Cup this year, including goalkeeper Dagoberto Portillo and forward Rodolfo Zelaya. Zelaya sparked a lot of interest among American media after scoring all four of El Salvador's goals in the tournament and having a standout performance. The 25 year old has 37 appearances for La Selecta with 17 goals for his country, and recently finished up a one year loan with Alania Vladikavkaz (Russia) from Alianza in El Salvador's first division.
Federation President Carlos Mendez Cabezas said late Wednesday "This is not a punishment, these are provisional, precautionary measures," while a statement by Federación Salvadoreña de Fútbol (FESFUT) read "With the investigations which have been conducted up to his point, evidence has been collected which suggests that offences connected to so-called match-fixing have been committed."
Last night, El Gráfico published an interview of a player who admitted to taking part in meetings with match fixers in Washington DC in 2010. This player, who remains anonymous, claims that Luis Angel Firpo's midfielder Dennis Alas, who has over 70 caps for El Salvador, persuaded him to attend those meetings between other players and the alleged match-fixers. The full article can be read here.
The games in question include the country's 5-0 Gold Cup loss to Mexico on July 5, 2011, a 2-1 loss to the United States on Feb. 24, 2010, a 1-0 loss to D.C. United on July 19, 2010, and a more recent 4-1 loss to Paraguay on Feb. 6, 2012. FIFA has been notified of the allegations, and the suspensions could be extended internationally. Mendez Cabezas said El Salvador won't be competing in any other matches until the investigation has been resolved.
Several of the suspended players have over 50 caps for La Selecta, including Alas, Ramon Sánchez, Osael Romero, Eliseo Quintanilla, Alfredo Pacheco and Marvin González. Zelaya, Cristian Castillo, Miguel Montes, Victor Turcios and Jose Mardoqueo Henríquez are called up regularly, while only two of the banned players have not played for the national side.
All the players in question are of Salvadorean nationality, and two currently play abroad - Turcios plays for Rovaniemen Palloseura in Finland, and Sanchez plays for Kazakhstan's FC Vostok.
Central America has been known for its clubs which struggle financially. Some playing and living conditions can be sub par, with players either not getting paid on time, or not getting paid at all, so for the region to be vulnerable to this type of thing shouldn't come as a shock, but it certainly has consequences that ultimately affect the nation and the integrity of the sport in CONCACAF. It will undoubtedly raise questions as to whether other countries are guilty of similar offenses.
As for the players' careers, being found guilty in this case carries heavy weight. Some players could see an end to their careers as a result.
I couldn't find information on three of the 22 suspended, but here's a list of the players, their club affiliations, and number of appearances for El Salvador's national team:
Marvin Gonzalez (Santa Tecla, 87 apps)
Dennis Alas (C.D. Luís Ángel Firpo, 77 apps)
Ramon Alfredo Sanchez (FC Vostok, 74 apps)
William Osael Romero (Alianza F.C, 69 apps)
Eliseo Quintanilla (Isidro Metapan, 66 apps)
Miguel Montes (Alianza, 43 apps)
Luis Alonso Anaya (Águila, 37 apps)
Rodolfo Zelaya (formerly on loan with Alania Vladikavkaz, 37 apps)
Christian Castillo (Luis Ángel Firpo, 35 apps)
Victor Turcios (Rovaniemen Palloseura, 35 apps)
Mardoqueo Henríquez (Águila, 33 apps)
Carlos Romeo Monteangudo (C.D. Luis Ángel Firpo, 17 apps)
Ramon Flores (C.D.FAS, 15 apps)
Dagoberto Portillo (C.D. Luis Ángel Firpo, 11 apps)
Emerson Umaña (Águila, 10 apps)
Benji Villalobos (Águila, 8 apps)
Jose Miguel Granadino (FAS, 6 apps)
Darwin Bonilla (Águila, 5 apps)
Carlos Carrillo (C.D. FAS)
Rodrigo Alejandro Martinez
Jose Alfredo Pacheco