The Belize men’s National Football Team is tonight gearing up for a face-off against their Costa Rican counterparts, slated for Saturday evening. The Costa Rica team comes off a 3-0 win against Cuba and Belize a 1-6 loss against the US. Following the game, the Jaguars were in low spirits, but have since been re-grouping for game two. According to Radio Columbia, Belize will be facing a Costa Rican team with a radically changed lineup, as coach Jorge Luis Pinto has chosen six different players to start. They were putting into practice this shift yesterday at the University of Utah. The session however, was closed off from the public and even the media. This is because of reports of match fixing made by the Jaguars to CONCACAF authorities. CONCACAF, alongside FIFA have since confirmed that “match manipulation was the key attempt.” As a result, the Jaguars too have been restricted from speaking to the media on the matter. But before the gag order was placed, defense Ian Gaynair, one of three players who were reportedly approached by Guatemalans to sell out games for some $10,000 US, spoke with ESPN.
Ian Gaynair – National Football Team:
I was aware about the match fixing already. When the guy came to me, I felt like this guy is trying to set me up or something. I felt really comfortable about the whole situation. My whole head started to spin. I was even afraid about the guy. I just wanted him to leave me alone and go about his business.
He disappeared after that because he saw the emotion on my face and the way how I felt, and right away he saw my features change. So he knew he can’t bring that anyway.
The guy came friendly; wanted to buy two tickets to go see us play the next day. We end up selling the man the ticket then he end up talking to us and became friendly with us. Then after that he wanted to know more about Belize and me and West explained to him to whole nine yards about Belize and he wanted to go there and just visit. And he ended up getting our number. He never get wah chance to go to Belize because we were busy with football. We ended up meeting the guys out here. Ih contact West, we meet ahn out yah and we sat down with the man and he start tell we bout he wah offer we wah large amount of money to help out fi we family and just change fi we life make we like become wealthy and thing. After that I get frightened and think cause I done aware of the match-fixing thing. Like I noh know weh fu do because I say maybe thiws man have wah recorder or something on ahn. And then the man even throw wah lotta money at we…so much hundreds and so much fifties because he done see that my features change about it. Then I tell West about it that I don’t wanna stay here; mek we goh. Then West mi di feel the same way.
Goal keeper Woodrow West and midfielder Andres Makin are the other players was who allegedly approached by match fixers. The three players have been attracting even more global respect for their honorable uncompromising decision. A New England published article titled “Belize’s Character Proves They Belong on CONCACAF’s Biggest Stage” is just one of those media outlets. The article says “In an age where match-fixing scandals are rampant in the world – Italy, Nigeria and Asia just to name a few – three Belizean players on a team with only two full professionals on the roster did the only thing that came to their mind… the reaction and quotes from the players about the event are beyond impressive.” Another article from prominent sports outlet Sport Illustrated puts is “Belizean players demonstrate integrity in rejecting match-fixing… So take a bow, Ian Gaynair, Woodrow West and Andres Makin.. You won.. total respect.” An official statement from CONCACAF reads “Initial findings of this investigation have resulted in a positive identification of the individual attempting the bribery. We want to thank Woodrow West and Ian Gaynair and recognize them for their bravery and commitment to preserving the integrity of our game.” With the international spotlight on the Jaguars, they prep to take on Costa Rica tomorrow at 4:00pm Belize time. In tomorrow’s match, Woodrow West will replace Shane Orio as starting goalkeeper. The game will be played at the Rio Tinto Stadium in Utah.