Nicaraguan soccer player Armando Collado, 26, is going to have to find something else to do for the rest of his life.
The International Federation of Football Associations (FIFA) has slapped the Nicaraguan footballer with lifetime, worldwide ban from “all football-related activities” as punishment for his involvement in fixing a friendly soccer match against Guatemala on Sept. 4, 2010.
The Salvadoran-born Nicaraguan footballer had played in 9 international matches for Nicaragua’s National Soccer Team before being banned from the sport. He was a starting defender for Nicaragua during the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup—the only time Nicaragua has ever qualified for an international soccer tournament.
Former national team coach Otoniel Olivas, who coached Collado on the 2009 Gold Cup team, told The Nicaragua Dispatch that he remembers the defender as a strong and aggressive player on the field, but not a team leader. Still, Olivas said he was surprised to learn of the situation involving his former player because, “Nothing like this has ever happened here before.”
The Nicaraguan Football Federation (FENIFUT), which banned Collado from national play in January 2011, did not comment on FIFA’s ratification and worldwide extension of the ban. A representative of FENIFUT told The Nicaragua Dispatch that the president of the national soccer federation is out of the country, and she didn’t know how to get in touch with the current national team coach.
In late 2010, FENIFUT reportedly received testimonies from several players on the national team who informed the federation that Collado had fixed a game against Guatemala, which Nicaragua lost 5-0. Collado was subsequently banned from all national play and fined $1,100.
Collado’s match-fixing apparently linked him to a Singapore-based gang accused of bribing national players during the CONCACAF Champions League, according to the publication Goal.com.
FIFA’s announcement today marks one of the first times that Nicaragua, ranked 138th on the world soccer ranking, has made international headlines for the sport.
Still, Nicaraguan sportswriters are applauding the news.
“This was a necessary and appropriate action,” veteran sportswriter Edgar Tijerino told The Nicaragua Dispatch today. “Nothing on this scale has ever happen in Nicaraguan sports before; there have been disciplinary measures taken against athletes, but never for something this dirty or criminal. It’s good that measures were taken before this behavior contaminated the sport.”
FIFA cracks down on match-fixing
Last month, FIFA announced it is launching a systematic and international crackdown on all match-fixing. The governing body is calling for help on all levels to protect the integrity of the game.
“Almost 300 million people play football in the world. This extraordinary popularity gives us responsibilities. One of them – a major one – is to protect the integrity of the game. Match-fixing endangers exactly that,” said FIFA President Joseph Blatter during the FIFA Executive Committee meeting held last month in Zurich.
Blatter said that FIFA has already set up an “early warning system” and created a “FIFA security division” that works in conjunction with INTERPOL to combat match-fixing. But Blatter says FIFA needs the “solidarity of everyone involved in the game.”
“Whenever a match-fixing attempt is noticed, this has to be reported to the relevant bodies. This is crucial,” Blatter stressed.