The 2011 CONCACAF Gold Cup that eventually concluded with a thrilling 4-2 Mexico victory over the U.S. captivated soccer fans this past summer. It drew record attendance throughout the proceedings, and that record attendance was eventually capped off with a 93,420-person showing at the Rose Bowl for the final.
According to a new Sports Illustrated report, however, there were also apparently instances of match-fixing occurring throughout.
"There has been information that some matches in the Gold Cup were manipulated," FIFA head of security Chris Eaton confirmed to Grant Wahl of SI.com. "We worked with CONCACAF at the time, and CONCACAF have been very interested in following up any information that can be revealed in the future on that."
And what specifically led them to this conclusion? Irregular betting patterns over the course of the tournament were prevalent, it seems. Sports Illustrated approached a leading betting-industry expert while researching their report, and he admitted that strange patterns led him to be suspicious of every game featuring Cuba and Grenada, as well as El Salvador’s 5-0 defeat to Mexico in the Gold Cup.
The games involving Grenada (which lost three matches by a combined 15-1) and Cuba (which was outscored 16-1), the insider said, stood out: "It was the sort of thing where we sat around and said, 'Yeah, this looks like it's a 99 percent chance that it's bent.'"
Interestingly enough, the betting that reportedly took place in this instance wasn’t the kind that traditionally springs to mind when it comes to sports gambling. Rather, it was “in-running betting” in which wagers are placed over the course of the game on things that will happen from the point at which the bet was made, going forward.
"With Cuba and Grenada, yes, they're terrible, but there's lots of other teams that are also terrible, and generally those of us in soccer betting are used to pricing out these sorts of games, where you have very good against very bad," the expert told SI. "We see them a lot in the World Cup and European Championship qualifying. What I would say is that the odds movements for in-running betting [in Cuba and Grenada's Gold Cup games] were just incredibly, incredibly unusual and extreme. We're talking about five to 10 times what you would typically see. And these extreme odds movements would be subsequently vindicated by what was happening on the field."
Despite the murmurs of improprieties, though, nothing has been proven as of yet. If there was any wrongdoing, however, more investigations will no doubt chip away at the wall of secrecy that has been built around soccer-related gambling controversies over the last few decades.