El Salvador suspends 22 players
SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP)
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El Salvador's football federation has suspended 22 players in an investigation into alleged match-fixing in games by the national team.
Public prosecutors said the raids took place in six cities. Federal prosecutor Luis Martinez told Radio Nacional de El Salvador that computers, electronic tablet devices and cellphones were among the items seized during the raids. He said authorities will also try to gain access to the bank accounts of those involved, both locally and abroad.
The prosecutor said there was already evidence of at least three offenses, including money laundering, and warned that people other than players could be charged.
''Possibly there are officials and some high-level people involved,'' Martinez said. ''We are going to get to the bottom of it.''
He said the investigation is separate from the one started by the local federation, which on Wednesday imposed 30-day suspensions on players while it investigates the suspect matches.
''This is not a punishment, these are provisional, precautionary measures,'' Federation President Carlos Mendez Cabezas said.
The CONCACAF, the sport's continental governing body, said it was fully behind the investigation in El Salvador.
''CONCACAF is deeply saddened by these claims of match manipulation within the football community,'' it said in a statement. ''The confederation fully supports the football federation of El Salvador and other pertinent organizations involved in the above mentioned investigation and hopes for a fair due process in order to determine the validity of these accusations.''
It added that the fight against match-manipulation was a top priority for the sport's organizers.
''In alignment with FIFA guidelines and in line with CONCACAF's commitment to ensure the legitimacy of each game played throughout the region, it is our duty to fight against organized crime alongside all stakeholders involved,'' CONCACAF said.
Mendez Cabezas said the El Salvador games under scrutiny include: a 5-0 Gold Cup loss to Mexico on July 5, 2011; a 2-1 loss to the United States on Feb. 24, 2010; a 4-1 loss to Paraguay on Feb. 6, 2012; and a 1-0 loss to D.C. United on July 19, 2010.
He said FIFA has been notified so that the suspensions could be extended internationally. He also said El Salvador will play no more games until the investigations are completed.
Martinez said he has already sought collaboration from authorities in other countries where match fixing has taken place.
The suspended players are: Mardoqueo Henriquez, Luis Alonso Anaya, William Osael Romero, Ramon Alfredo Sanchez, Christian Castillo, Eliseo Quintanilla, Jose Miguel Granadino, Miguel Montes, Dagoberto Portillo, Rodolfo Zelaya, Victor Turcios, Carlos Romeo Monteangudo, Dennis Alas, Jose Alfredo Pacheco, Marvin Gonzalez, Carlos Carrillo, Darwin Bonilla, Rodrigo Alejandro Martinez, Reynaldo Hernandez Villeda, Ramon Flores, Benji Villalobos and Emerson Umana.