El Salvador soccer players accused of match-fixing acquitted of criminal charges

A court in El Salvador has acquitted 11 soccer players and two foreign businesspeople of criminal charges in a match-fixing scandal involving the country's national team.

Prosecutors had accused the defendants of money-laundering, concealment and illegal association. They faced possible sentences of up to 19 years if convicted.

Judge Ernesto Parada ruled Friday that the suspects' alleged conduct did not fit the charges and was instead a matter of morality and conscience.

The Salvadoran Soccer Federation has investigated four of the national squad's games for suspected match-fixing.

They included a 2-1 loss to the United States in Florida in 2010 and a 5-0 defeat against Mexico in the 2011 Gold Cup.

Fourteen players received lifetime bans, and eight more were suspended for periods ranging from six months to five years.