No outpost in the soccer world is too remote for match fixers to reach.
A man approached three players from Belize’s national team and asked them to purposefully lose their next game — a CONCACAF Gold Cup group-stage game against the United States — in exchange for large sums of money. The players, Andres Makin Jr., Ian “Yolo” Gaynair and Woodrow West, declined the offer and reported the incident instead, according to 7 News Belize.
“The man first met them in Guatemala [in June], attempted to befriend them — and then called them again in Portland — where he met them at a mall near to the hotel,” the report says.
All but two players on Belize’s squad are amateurs, which makes them a target for fixers. Its players are paid $5,000 for making the Gold Cup squad, $250 for each game they play and $75 per day while they are in the United States. The fixer told the three players that they should make some extra money off of a game they were going to lose anyway.
“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,” Gaynair said.
“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.”
Belize is competing in its first-ever Gold Cup. Gaynair said the players’ sense of patriotism and the support they’re receiving back home wouldn’t allow them to fix the game.
“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. At the end of the day we might not be making a lot of money in Belize but still we have to look at our career and our future.”
West said the fixer then offered them €10,000 ($13,000) to keep quiet. He wasn’t successful in that endeavor either.
The U.S. won Tuesday’s game against Belize, 6-1.