FIFA bans coach for 2 years in World Cup match-fixing case

ZURICH (AP) FIFA has banned a former El Salvador coach for two years for his role in offering players money to perform well in a World Cup qualifying game, and thereby help his native Honduras.

FIFA ethics committee judges found Ramon Maradiaga guilty of ”bribery and corruption” and failing to report the plot, soccer’s world governing body said Wednesday.

El Salvador’s players were offered cash by a third party if they managed to win – or at least avoid losing by two goals or more – in a qualifier against Canada in September 2016. A big defeat risked helping Canada progress ahead of Honduras. It’s against FIFA rules for third parties to offer cash incentives to teams.

FIFA said Maradiaga let the meeting happen ”in which financial compensation was promised to the players in exchange for their altering the result of the game between El Salvador and Canada.”

However, El Salvador players revealed the cash offer at a news conference before the game in Vancouver.

Maradiaga captained Honduras at the 1982 World Cup, the first time the Central American qualified for the tournament.

He was also fined 20,000 Swiss francs ($20,000), FIFA said.

Honduras progressed from the regional qualifying group by drawing 0-0 with Mexico in its final game, meaning Canada could not advance despite a 3-1 win over El Salvador.

Honduras ultimately did not qualify for the World Cup in Russia, losing an intercontinental playoff against Australia last November.

A previous match-fixing scandal forced El Salvador to rebuild its national team for the 2018 qualifying program.

FIFA imposed a range of lifetime bans and other suspensions on players who were involved in fixing games, including a 5-0 loss to Mexico at the 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup.