If FAS Was Selling, Who Was Buying? [Updated]
Posted on June 14, 2011 2:56 am
Those of you who followed Real Salt Lake’s run in the last CONCACAF Champions League from the beginning will remember the curious allegations made by Arabe Unido: that “certain people” offered them a guaranteed win in their away match at RSL for 10,000 US dollars. From what I can tell, nothing came of CONCACAF’s subsequent investigation. But according to Reynaldo Valle, ex-President of Salvadoran giants FAS, there may have been more skulduggery afoot in the last CCL.
Valle gave an interview to El Grafico in which he denounced another ex-President of the tigrillos, Byron Rodriguez, for conning him back in 2009 when he handed over the reins of the institution. Rodriguez paid him with $25,000 in cash and $200,000 in checks, but the latter bounced, Valle claims. The more serious accusations, for our purposes, come later in the interview:
For non-Spanish speakers:
My initial reaction was to ask: to whom would Rodriguez have [allegedly] “sold” FAS’s games? Looking back at their group, it would be hard to make a case for either Toluca or the Puerto Rico Islanders having “guaranteed” any of their results against FAS. For the Mexicans, even suggesting that they were interested would carry two outlandish implications: that Toluca cared enough about the CCL to fix games, and that they felt that bribes were necessary to handle FAS. Their match in the Estadio Cuscatlan certainly betrayed no evidence of any prior “arrangement”, with FAS holding Toluca to a 0-0 draw; and in Mexico, Toluca demonstrated their clear superiority by crushing FAS 5-0. The same argument could be made by the Islanders, who needed no help to take all three points at home and were also forced to accept a scoreless tie in El Salvador.
In fact, the only team to beat FAS both home and away was Olimpia, who won 2-0 in Tegucigalpa and 4-1 in San Salvador. By the time that second match took place, on Matchday 5, FAS had already lost hope of making it to the quarterfinals, while Olimpia found itself locked in a three-way tussle with Toluca and the Islanders for the top two spots in Group D. Perhaps Rodriguez thought to make a quick buck off of his team’s futility?
I should make clear that as far as actual evidence goes, there is nothing tying Olimpia, or any of FAS’s opponents, to these accusations, much less any concrete reason to believe that Olimpia would even be interested in that offer. A more probable situation would have been “certain people” trying to fix scorelines according to gambling interests, a sadly-frequent occurrence within our sport at a global level. Either way, I would hope that the Salvadoran Federation (FESFUT), UNCAF and/or CONCACAF open a full investigation into the matter, and continue to uproot corruption just as Anton Sealy and co. are doing at the highest levels in our region.
UPDATE: El Grafico has done its due diligence, following up with coaches and players from the 2010 FAS squad.
The head coach at the time, Alberto Rujana, dropped even more details of match-fixing, claiming that the fans had warned him of Mardoqueo Henriquez, Victor Velasquez and Cristian Alvarez having a reputation for “selling” games. He also pointed out two CCL matches in particular in which such activity could have taken place. The first was the 4-1 hammering FAS took in Bayamon, away to the Puerto Rico Islanders. He claimed that after complaining to his physical trainer Diego Barreto about his team’s unusually bad performance in the first ten minutes, Barreto responded by informing him about a couple of players deliberately underperforming, then tearing into Henriquez at halftime. The second match that Rujana pointed out was the 2-0 loss at Olimpia:
And Rujana finished by bluntly stating that Isidro Metapan also sold “four or five games”, which, considering that they only played two last year, would have included a few matches from their horrendous participation in the 2009-10 CCL.
El Grafico talked to Barreto himself, now working at Suchitepequez in Guatemala, and while he acknowledges that rumors of match-fixing were swirling around that FAS team, he gave a curious reply to the question of whether he warned Rujana of match-fixing. He states that he himself did not speak with Rujana about it, but says about him, “if he has proof that I was the one who talked to him about [match-fixing], let him show it.” He does add, for the record, that the rumors did play a part in his leaving FAS.
And among the players that did respond to El Grafico‘s investigation, all of them admitted knowledge of the rumors, but while a couple of them expressed anger at the possibility that it happened, others denied having any part of it. Among the ones called out by Rujana by name, only Alvarez responded, saying that the rumors were a “smokescreen” to justify current president Margarita Jaramillo stiffing the team on payments.
UPDATE 2: Carlos Villarreal, an ex-Sporting Director in FAS, pointed out that he left the institution well before the games that Rujana claims were “thrown.” And Henriquez has now spoken out, threatening to sue Rujana for slandering him with the accusations, which he feels are the result of Jaramillo’s personal grievances with him.
Outside of Santa Ana, Isidro Metapan coach Edwin Portillo asked to keep his club out of the controversy, while taking a pot-shot at FAS, dropping the idiom “si el r