Demonising Justin Gatlin
13th September 2015
The Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) is to investigate allegations of match-fixing at the 2015 Gold Cup, following complaints from the Panama (FEPAFUT) and Costa Rican (FEDEFUT) football associations. Both countries issued complaints after they lost to Mexico during the final minutes of a match following a controversial penalty.
‘CONCACAF has received the official requests from the Panamanian Football Federation and Costa Rican Football Federation and will review them carefully’, read a 24 July CONCACAF statement. ‘The confederation takes these claims extremely seriously and will look into them immediately. As a first step toward addressing the request, this matter has been added to the agenda of tomorrow’s CONCACAF Executive Committee meeting for discussion.’
CONCACAF also decided to fine FEPAFUT for misconduct ‘both on and off the field’, while two Panama players were also suspended following its 2-1 loss to Mexico in the semi-final of the Gold Cup. ‘Panamanian player Jaime Penedo was suspended two matches for pushing the assistant referee following the conclusion of the match’, read an additional 24 July statement. ‘Fellow Panamanian player Luis Tejada was also sanctioned with a two-match ban, one match for the red card received in the semifinal match and an additional match for failing to leave the field in a timely manner following the ejection’. The results of the 25 July Executive Committee meeting are expected to be announced later today.
“We have been robbed”, said FEPAFUT President Pedro Chaluja in a post-game press conference, as reported on the FEPAFUT internet site. “It is suspicious. The match ended with a result where it is clear that there was an intention to protect third parties. FIFA and CONCACAF should join our call and conduct a formal investigation.”
Chaluja alleged that the referee, American Mark Geiger – considered one of the top referees in the CONCACAF region – underperformed and made poor decisions. Panama was reduced to 10 men early in the game and was leading 1-0, until Mexico was awarded a controversial penalty in the 88th minute. Mexico went on to win 2-1 in extra time. It was the second game in succession in which Mexico was awarded a controversial penalty in the final moments of the game, following its win over Costa Rica in the quarter-finals.
FEPAFUT’s complaint followed a 23 July official complaint filed by FEDEFUT. The official complaint, published in full on FEDEFUT’s internet site, lists a number of recent matches in which it considers referee decisions to be suspicious. It asks CONCACAF to request the resignation of its Arbitration (referee) Commission ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia qualifying campaign; to consider the dismissal of the Technical Commission within the Arbitration Commission, as this is in charge of appointing referees; and to not appoint a number of listed referees for matches involving Costa Rica.
Mexico went on to win the 2015 Gold Cup, after beating Jamaica 3-1. Its victory marks the seventh time that Mexico has won the tournament – a new record.
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