El Salvador has banned 14 of its international footballers for life amid a match-fixing scandal. The list includes some of the country's most well-known and experienced players.
"The disciplinary commission of El Salvador Football Federation (FESFUT) has decided to ban from all football-related activities 14 internationals," Carlos Mendez (pictured above), president of FESFUT, said at a press conference Friday.
One other player was handed an 18-month ban, two more were given six-month suspensions, four face further investigations, and one was acquitted.
"The work of the disciplinary commission has been exhaustive," Mendez said. "We have used valuable information which has come from interviews, video accounts from people who have had the strength to declare and help us find those responsible."
The 14 players given life bans were Dagoberto Portillo, Miguel Montes, Ramon Flores, Miguel Granadino, Luis Anaya, Mardoqueo Henriquez, Alredo Pacheco, Marvin Gonzalez, Reynaldo Hernandez, Osael Romero, Darwin Bonilla, Dennis Alas, Ramon Sanchez and Christian Castillo.
Pacheco, Romero, Gonzalez, Alas and Sanchez all have more than 50 caps to their names. Castillo, along with Romero and Pacheco, spent time playing in the US-Canada top flight, Major League Soccer.
Carlos Romero was banned for 18 months; Eliseo Quintanilla and Victor Turcios, who plays his club football for the Finnish side RoPS, were suspended for six months; and Carlos Carrillo was acquitted. The players facing further investigation are Rodolfo Zelaya, Emerson Umana, Rodrigo Martinez and Benji Villalobos.
Gold Cup under scrutiny
The investigation revolved around several international matches played in the United States, including a 2-1 loss to the US in a friendly on February 24, 2010; a 5-0 loss to Mexico in the 2011 Gold Cup; and a 1-0 exhibition loss to DC United on June 19, 2010.
All 22 players had been suspended since last month while the matches were investigated.
"The national teams will continue with their agenda," Mendez said. "The players pass by, and the institutions are permanent."
Poor playing conditions and inconsistent payment make Central America particularly vulnerable to match-fixing. Two Guatemalan players were banned for life last year for attempting to manipulate a friendly against Costa Rica. A Nicaraguan player was also issued a life ban over a 2010 friendly against Guatemala.
dr/mkg (Reuters, AFP, AP)