Match-fixing at Real Salt Lake?
Somebody might have tried.
International soccer officials are investigating allegations that outsiders sought to either influence the outcome of RSL's victory over Arabe Unido in the CONCACAF Champions League at Rio Tinto Stadium last month, or bilk the visitors from Panama out of thousands of dollars.
A spokesman for CONCACAF the governing body for soccer in North and Central America and the Caribbean confirmed Thursday the organization has completed an initial round of interviews, following a complaint by Arabe Unido that "certain people" were bothering the coaches and players at their hotel in Utah "looking to possibly influence the match."
Spokesman Ben Spencer said his organization has formulated "an idea" who was involved, but that's it's "highly unlikely" that the result of the investigation will have any effect on the outcome of the game a 2-1 victory for RSL on Aug. 18.
"We have no indication of a sense of wrongdoing with either of the teams involved," Spencer said.
Spencer declined to discuss specifics of the allegations.
But sources said coaches and players from Arabe Unido alleged they were approached at their hotel on the day before the game with a "guarantee" that they would not lose if they paid $10,000. The team did not pay, the sources said, and reported the alleged solicitation to both RSL and CONCACAF.
"Obviously, we had nothing to do with it," RSL spokesman Trey Fitz-Gerald said.
It's not known where Arabe Unido stayed, but it was neither at the Hilton nor the Radisson in downtown Salt Lake City the two hotels that usually play host to RSL opponents during the season. Fitz-Gerald said the team found a less expensive hotel on its own.
Officials at CONCACAF plan to conduct more interviews as necessary, but Spencer said they do not have a deadline for their investigation.
The victory over Arabe Unido helped RSL move to the top of the standings in their CONCACAF Champions League group. Its 1-1 draw at Toronto earlier this week assured that it will advance out of group play and into the quarterfinals in February.
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