The USMNT mollywhopped Belize 6-1 on Tuesday in their opening match of Gold Cup play. That's not a surprise; the US is a much better team. But three Belize players have come forward alleging that they were approached by a man offering them money to fix the match.
Remember, match-fixing is rarely about about winning and losing—it's about conceding goals to ensure bets on total goals and margins of victory. The three players—goalkeeper Woodrow West, defender Ian Gaynair, and midfielder Andres Makin, Jr., claim that the man first approached them in Guatemala, they met up again with them in Portland ahead of Tuesday's match.
The report, from 7 News Belize, describes the man only as an "international."
"He started talking that we don't really stand a chance to beat the U.S so he wanted us to promise him that we would lose the game and that he would give us a large amount of money to change our lives in Belize and to help our families. Then as he said that my entire features changed and I just felt a different way, I felt really uncomfortable just to be around the guy because I was already aware about the 'match fixing' and I know that I could get banned for life.
"He saw that my features changed and he saw that we weren't into it so he got frightened and took out a large amount of money to bribe us, a lot of hundred and fifty dollar bills and threw it at us on the table and told us to keep it and to not say anything and to keep the money. Like I told him, 'we can't take that money' because at the end of the day our entire country is behind us and we just made history for these big games so we can't just sell out our country for a little bit of money."
"He got frightened and we walked—'Yolo' [Gaynair] walked away and I followed him because I didn't want to stay back there so when we went he chased us and grabbed us and told us not to tell anyone; and that if we didn't tell anyone - that when we got to Belize he would give us 10,000 Euros."
The president of Belize's soccer federation praised the players for walking away, and said the team had been warned about bribes before the tournament.
Match-fixing is an enormous problem in international soccer. A recent investigation by Europol found hundreds of suspicious results, including World Cup and Champions League matches. Domestic leagues are targets too, with recent finds of match-fixing everywhere from Italy's top tier to Canadian semi-pro leagues.
Of the three Belize players approached, two never got off the bench during the Gold Cup match. The third, Gaynair, scored the Jaguars' only goal. The US comfortably beat the spread, and the over/under on total goals was surpassed in the 58th minute.