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OTL reports on U.S. links to match-fixing allegations

Feb 8, 2013, 6:55 PM EDT

US-match fixing

Was this game fixed?

According to a report from Outside the Lines, there’s a possibility that it was one of a number of El Salvadorian national team games influenced by the gambling ring from earlier this week. If true: wow.

Sure, it was a meaningless friendly on a February evening in 2010. But you don’t think about match-fixing tainting games played by the United States national team, do you? You might have to start.

The Outside the Lines investigation — which came together impressively quickly — offers some details into how and why the crime syndicate targeted El Salvadorian players. It also says that in addition to this friendly, an El Salvador-Mexico match in the Gold Cup may have been fixed. Not great all around.

We’ll probably never know the truth behind this game or many of the others. The will to do something about gambling, to clean up the sport, seems limited despite the revelations earlier this week and the ones that will continue to trickle out. All we can do is guess and hope something changes for the better.

As for the match in Tampa, the highlights show the U.S. missing chance after chance after chance in the late stages of the game, then capitalizing on a soft turnover in the 92nd minute to take the victory. Draw your own conclusions.

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If you’d like to get even more depressed, go check out Brian Phillip’s excellent column on Grantland.

And a final word from BP:

That was a great closing turn from @bobleyespn and @marcotti, who point out that the bookmakers sponsor and in some cases own soccer clubs. — Brian Phillips (@runofplay)

  1. drewvt6 - Feb 9, 2013 at 1:40 AM

    I think bp’s reaction is so harsh because he hadn’t assumed all along many of these matches are fixed. It’s what the south and central Americans have assumed for decades. It’s what th Italians and citizens of the Iberian peninsula have guessed for years. To me some of the reaction in the US media is more about soccer being main streamed. It’s about that 11 or 12 year old kid figuring out dad may not be all that. Protecting our own league and games will make the US a more desirable place to play in the long run. We see it now to some extent in mls with Argentineans escaping the over bearing, mafia controlled sports culture. Meanwhile, more and more Americans won’t respond so harshly when a player dives to ensure even a bought ref can’t miss the call.

  2. joeyt360 - Feb 9, 2013 at 11:10 AM

    I dunno. . . there’s nothing here I haven’t seen in games that I wouldn’t think were fixed. Several of those previous chances, the El Salvador player lays out completely to try to cut off a cross, or gives the shoulder charge, etc, things I wouldn’t think they would have to do if they were in on a fix. On the goal sequence, sure, that’s a soft turnover, but it’s also from the blind side, it’s not as if he dribbled right into a guy and got stripped.

    Honestly, if it’s a fix, then either most of the Salvadoran players other than Gonzalez weren’t in on it, or it’s a masterpiece of a fix, and I wouldn’t think they’d be this much better at fixing soccer than they were at playing soccer.

  3. mvktr2 - Feb 9, 2013 at 5:22 PM

    For anyone doubting the scope of gambling influence upon sports in this nation you can review the gambling section of ESPN’s sports encyclopedia which is available online. The whole thing isn’t available, just portions and it happens to contain most of the gambling part. IIRC the FBI estimates the fix is in on a full 3% of all ncaa mens basketball games with point spreads of 13 pts or higher and that roughly 1% of all games across all platforms are effected in some way. That’s just in the US. For my money only a wise-guy or a fool bets on sports unless it’s friendly wagers among friends.

    As a side note I’ve stated before that MLS needs to get into Las Vegas because MLS needs to become more gambling friendly. Widespread gambling corruption could bury the league in the US sport-fans eyes, however the games most watched with the most interest in the US are those gambled upon the heaviest. Increase gambling interest in MLS, increase viewership, increase income, increase payroll, increase quality of play on the field and the cycle continues to build. It’s an easy enough formula, but a dangerous one for MLS 2.0.

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