Michael C. Lewis of the Salt Lake Tribune has an intriguing report on a match-fixing investigation resulting from Real Salt Lake's CONCACAF Champions League match against Arabe Unido at Rio Tinto Stadium last month.  Lewis says Arabe Unido side was approached by "outsiders" who promised a victory for the Panamanian side if they paid $10,000.  The two possibilities are that the "fixers" did have influence over the outcome, or that they were simply trying to scam the club.

When considering that possibility that the "outsiders" had influence over the outcome of the game, it's natural to look immediately at the referee.  Canadian Paul Ward, who also works MLS matches, was the man in the middle during what turned into a farcical exhibition of diving and time-wasting by Arabe Unido.  Both assistants were Canadian as well, with an American manning the fourth official's position.  There is nothing to indicate Ward might be susceptible to pressure from match-fixers, nor has he ever been accused of anything beyond the standard incompetence usually associated with referees in general and MLS referees in particular.

Nevertheless, the odd circumstance of Arabe Unido being approached (something they themselves reported to RSL and CONCACAF) means that every aspect of the game should be investigated; the simple fact that match-fixing allegations exist around a game involving an MLS team and in an American venue should raise red flags for the league.  Grousing about incompetent officiating in this tournament, something Garber and the league have refrained from doing, is much different than pressing the confederation on tracking down potential match-fixing.  Hopefully this is a simple matter of attempted extortion, but that shouldn't be assumed.

All of the above assumes Arabe Unido's reports of being approached can be taken at face value.  There's always a chance it's a false claim, as at least one person seems to think.

Yet, considering the shenanigans that went on in the match in question, the idea that the Panamanians were approached to have the game fixed in their favor just seems to fit, in a coming-together of farcical events.

A CONCACAF spokesman says the confederation has completed an initial round of interviews.  It will be interesting to see if there is any follow-up to this story, or if CONCACAF releases its findings.
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