SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — Regional soccer officials said Tuesday that they are investigating claims by Salvadoran national team players that they were offered money to help Honduras advance in World Cup qualifying play.
Honduras leads Canada in the CONCACAF competition to determine which teams in the region advance to the 2018 World Cup. It would lose its current second place in Group A only if Canada won by a wide margin in a game Tuesday night with El Salvador, which has already been eliminated from qualifying.
Salvadoran players said in Vancouver, British Columbia, that a Salvadoran businessman offered them money to help Honduras by winning, tying or losing by a close margin against Canada.
The regional soccer body CONCACAF said in a statement that it "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" and is looking into the matter.
CONCACAF did not release any details, saying: "No further information can be given at this moment in order not to jeopardize any possible investigations."
Mexico, which already qualified, was playing Honduras on Tuesday night. But a lopsided Honduras loss to Mexico combined with a lopsided Canadian victory could knock Honduras out of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Ricardo Padilla, the businessman named by the Salvadoran players, told local media in El Salvador that he had indeed offered the players money and said he had done so before.
Hugo Carrillo, an official at the Salvadoran Soccer Federation, said that "we are going to cooperate 100 percent to clear this situation up."