Explosive accusations are afoot in the CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament, as three members of the Belize national team have stepped forward, claiming they were approached about losing their Tuesday-night contest against the United States on purpose.
According to a transcript from 7 News Belize (h/t Fox Sports), Andres Makin Jr., Ian Gaynair and Woodrow West told the station a man trying to massage the result in the United States' favor approached them in Guatemala.
The man, who is unnamed throughout the report, became friends with the trio of players and later met up with them at a mall in Portland, Ore., just days prior to the Gold Cup group match. It's unclear whether the man had approached any other players on the Belize national team.
Seeing an opportunity, the match-fixer allegedly offered the players a handsome sum to throw the contest—playing on their underdog status as his pitch.
He started talking that we don’t really stand a chance to beat the U.S. so he wanted us to promise him that we would lose the game and that he would give us a large amount of money to change our lives in Belize and to help our families.
The Belizean defender claims the man saw that the players were unwilling and took out a "large amount of money" to bribe them. He then placed the money on the table and implored them to keep it, ostensibly to keep their mouths shut about the incident. Pro Soccer Talk's Richard Farley has noted that the players were offered $10,000 (or Euros) to keep quiet.
West, the team's goaltender, also claims to have rebuffed the offer, saying:
I made him understand that we’re not into taking money from him or anything like that. We’re here for our country—regardless if we’re in the U.S. but we’re not into that none at all. He got frightened and we walked.
Makin Jr. claims to have spoken briefly with the man, whose nationality is also unknown, before being brushed aside, per Sports Illustrated's Tim Polzer.
The man asked me a lot of questions and the man asked me how much money I made in Belize and I told him we make a certain amount of money. Then he told me that that isn’t any kind of money and he kept asking questions and questions and only about money he was talking about and that is when he pulled "Yolo" aside and told him that he didn’t want to talk to me only to Yolo and Woodrow.
Players involved in fixing scandals face a lifetime ban from FIFA.
While the three Belize players claim they weren't in on a fix, it's unlikely to have mattered anyway. The United States defeated Belize, 6-1, in a contest that was never in question from the opening whistle.
Chris Wondolowski scored three first-half goals in the rout, which gave the United States an early advantage in Group C play. The USMNT will be back in action on Saturday, taking on Cuba, who lost 3-0 to Costa Rica.
Belize will play their second game of group play against the Costa Ricans directly after the United States' match.
FIFA has not released a statement on the attempted match-fixing claims at this time.
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