At stake is a spot in the upcoming 2018 World Cup in Russia. Each player on the Salvadoran team was offered up to approximately $3,000 to potentially playing better than they normally do, by a major Honduran businessman.
If Canada cannot beat El Salvador and Mexico loses to Honduras, it opens up a spot for Honduras in the global soccer tournament. El Salvador is already unable to qualify for the World Cup, since they are at the bottom of their group in their bracket, according to ESPN FC.
Team captain Nelson Bonilla made clear in a press conference Monday that none of the soccer players would ever consider taking bribes. “In reference to what we heard, we want to make it clear that we are against anything of this kind,” Bonilla said. “We want to be transparent about everything that has happened with the national team.”
Bonilla played the audio of a conversation with the would-be-briber, Ricardo Padilla, for reporters to listen to. In his offer to the players, Padilla stated he would even pay the players if they lost their match 0-1.
Despite the assurances of Bonilla, the Salvadoran soccer team has a history of willingly participating in rigging games on behalf of the highest bidder. As recently as 2013, 14 Salvadoran soccer players received lifetime bans from playing professional soccer.
When confronted about the alleged attempt at bribing the Salvadoran soccer team, Padilla said, “It’s true, I met with them [the team].” Padilla went on to explain his methodology behind the offer, saying, “I offered them $30 per minute played if they won the game. I offered them $20 per minute played if they tied the game. Since they were going to make a great effort to achieve these objectives, I told them I would even give them $15 per minute played if they lost, as long as the loss was only 1-0.” The Salvadoran businessman has said in response to the revelation of his bribery attempt, “Let them investigate, I’m not worried.”
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