Former El Salvador coach Maradiaga banned over match-fixing case

Ramón Maradiaga received a two-year suspension from FIFA. (Reuters pic)

ZÜRICH: Former El Salvador head coach Ramón Maradiaga has been banned by FIFA for two years for allegedly failing to report a match-fixing attempt before their World Cup qualifier against Canada in 2016, the global football body said on Wednesday.

FIFA said Maradiaga, a Honduran who played for his own country in the 1982 World Cup, had “allowed and failed to report” a meeting in which a third party offered the players “financial compensation” in exchange for fixing the result.

It said the offer was rejected and reported by the players in a news conference on September 5, 2016. The incident was widely reported at the time.

Maradiaga could not immediately be reached for comment.

El Salvador were bottom of their four-team group with two points from five games and had already been eliminated from the competition for places at this year’s World Cup in Russia.

However, a heavy defeat for El Salvador could have potentially allowed Canada to finish above Honduras and progress to the next stage of the competition on goal difference.

In the event, Canada won 3-1 but were eliminated after Honduras drew 0-0 away to Mexico.

Maradiaga, 63, was found guilty of violating FIFA ethics rules on bribery and corruption and duty of disclosure, FIFA said in a statement. He was also fined 20,000 Swiss francs (RM79,000).

He is widely known in Central America, having also coached the national teams of Honduras and Guatemala, as well a number of clubs including Marathón, Motagua, Real España, and Águila.

Central America is seen as especially vulnerable to match-fixing as many clubs struggle financially, playing conditions are poor, and players often do not get paid on time.

In 2013, El Salvador banned 14 international players for life for match-fixing, including some of their best-known and most experienced names.