Panama, Costa Rica join forces, demand corruption investigation of CONCACAF Gold Cup

Written By Luke Sheehan
Hernan Dario Gomez - Cropped
(Getty Images)

Panama and Costa Rica have joined forces, launching a petition to call on FIFA and CONCACAF to review the possibility of corruption at the Gold Cup.

Both sides were eliminated by Mexico in the Gold Cup's knockout stages, with Miguel Herrera's men recipients of dubious penalty decisions in each fixture.

MORE: Photos from Gold Cup semifinals | Saturday: U.S. vs. Panama | Sunday: Mexico-Jamaica

Panama's football federation (FEPAFUT) president Pedro Chaluja claimed he had the support of CONCACAF president Alfredo Hawit — who is occupying the role in the interim, after predecessor Jeffrey Webb left the position in May when he was arrested and indicted in the U.S. on racketeering, conspiracy and corruption charges.

"Their president, Hawit, has expressed his support for us," Chaluja told reporters in a news conference. "It is not just Panama asking for an investigation, it is Costa Rica as well."

Chaluja clarified his claims of corruption were not directed at Mexico.

"Sadly, we share the disillusion of having to call attention to the poor refereeing decisions that were deliberate and motivated by an intention to protect third parties. It is our perception that this match was fixed and not by the Mexican Football Federation but rather by others," he said.

"These occurrences can only be cleared up if FIFA and CONCACAF hear our call and collaborate on a formal and thorough investigation into the circumstances that could have motivated referee Mark Geiger, circumstances that were so unfavorable for our country that we ended up being robbed of a victory and having our entire country's illusion shattered."

CONCACAF said the issue would be discussed at the governing body's executive committee meeting Saturday.

"CONCACAF has received the official requests from the Panamanian Football Federation and Costa Rican Football Federation and will review them carefully," it said in a prepared statement. "The confederation takes these claims extremely seriously and will look into them immediately. As a first step toward addressing the request, this matter has been added to the agenda of (Saturday's) CONCACAF Executive Committee meeting for discussion."

Adding salt to Panama's wounds was CONCACAF's decision to hand two-match bans to Luis Tejada, who saw red in the first half against Mexico on Wednesday, and goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, who was sanctioned for a shove on an assistant referee following the final whistle.

Tejada's ban for his straight red was increased from the automatic one match to two matches after he showed dissent by taking about four minutes to leave the playing field.

Also handed sanctions were Mexico coach Herrera and United States captain Michael Bradley, who were both fined undisclosed amounts.

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