Two teams in the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships in Frisco, Texas have been suspected of match fixing to ensure their survival in the tournament. Carlsbad Elite and Ambassadors FC entered the final group day of the U-18 girls division in first and second, respectively, in Group A, but with their safety in doubt.
A draw in their match on Thursday would mean both would advance, with Carlsbad Elite winning the group with seven points and Ambassadors FC claiming second place with five points. A result either way would leave one of the two teams with just four points, opening the door for Syracuse Development Academy to potentially jump up to second and advance on the tiebreak.
With that in mind, look at this video from Carlsbad Elite's match against Ambassadors FC.
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Carlsbad and Ohio Ambassadors played this for 90 min to advance. Youth soccer at its worst. pic.twitter.com/WgFnpmLnpD— Livster (@TheLivster59) July 28, 2016
Essentially they're just rolling the ball back and forth, not even pretending to compete. According Top Drawer Soccer, the two teams did this for the entirety of the match. With the ignoble 0-0 result in the books, both teams collected the point needed to advance to the semifinals.
That certainly looks like match fixing, through and through. To make it even worse, it's happening at the youth level. These are teenagers purportedly being forced to abandon their competitive drive and blatantly cheat the game to assure they'd both advance.
Ambassadors FC coach Caleb Fortune released a statement to Top Drawer Soccer, defending the play of the match, citing the heat of the day as a factor in the effort.
"Both teams were through pretty much, so there was nothing to play for," he said. "We just told our players, if the other team has the ball at the back, just don't press them. There's no reason to run around and kill yourselves during this event.
"I do understand that in terms of the event, you have to play the game. But the result was meaningless. We weren't match fixing."
Be that as it may, soccer still faces an uphill battle when it comes to battling public opinion. The game, especially at the youth level, should be about having fun while developing and learning sporting habits. If throwing matches is occurring at youth tournaments, it certainly doesn't help that cause. In fact, it doesn't help much of anything.
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