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Match Fixing Allegations Shadow Tonight's Qualifier Between Canada and El Salvador

The El Salvadorian team came forward alleging someone had attempted to pay them money to get a favourable result tonight.

Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

A strange kind of match fixing - if it can be called that - has dominated the build-up to Canada's World Cup qualifier against El Salvador after the visitors to Vancouver alleged they had been offered cash in order not to throw the match on Tuesday night.

El Salvador, of course, has already been eliminated from contention for a place in the next round and have only pride to play for at BC Place.

Canada, on the other hand, are still in with a shot, albeit a long one; they can qualify for the Hex with a win and the kind of heavy defeat of Honduras by Mexico that would create a six-goal swing in the goal differential column.

That state of affairs was apparently an uncomfortable one for an as-yet unidentified figure in Honduras, who appears to have attempted to incentivise El Salvador actually turning up and trying. The man making the offer - from $30-a-minute to each player for a win to $10-a-minute for a 1-0 loss - on his or her behalf has been named as Salvadoran businessman Ricardo Padilla.

"In reference to what we heard, we want to make it clear that we are against anything of this kind," El Salvador striker Nelson Bonilla said at a press conference after reporters had listened to a recording of Padilla making the offer. "We want to be transparent about everything that has happened with the national team."

While offering a team cash just to take a game seriously is not exactly match fixing in its most damaging guise, the suggestion of any kind of bribery is a sore point for a country trying to distance itself from such corruption. Three years ago, 14 El Salvador players were handed lifetime bans from the national team for involvement in match fixing, so it is encouraging - and commendable - to see the current generation take such a strong and open stance.

"Let them investigate, I'm not worried," Padilla told La Pensa Grafica, the newspaper which originally named him. "Those who want to see it as something bad can see it that way and those who want to see it as something good, then they can too."