Both Colombia and Peru went into Tuesday night’s World Cup qualifier facing high stakes. A win would guarantee Colombia entry to next summer’s tournament in Russia. Peru, meanwhile, would also help its chances greatly with a win.
But neither team won Tuesday. Instead, the match ended in a draw, which, because of the outcomes of other matches happening simultaneously in the region, meant Colombia secured its berth in the World Cup, while Peru earned a spot in a playoff against New Zealand.
This was apparently good enough for Colombian star Radamel Falcao, who admitted he approached Peruvian players toward the end of the match to suggest they both just play for the draw.
“Obviously we were aware of what was going on in the other games,” he said. “We were playing with knowledge of the other results and, in that moment, [we wanted] to make that known.”
Video footage circulated on social media following the draw shows Falcao chatting with Peru’s Renato Tapia, Christian Ramos and Miguel Araujo.
Falcao convincing Peru players to settle for a draw that would qualify both for the WC!
Is this match fixing? pic.twitter.com/XNhdvqMReK
— Arsenal News (@__arsenalnews_) October 11, 2017
Action after Falcao’s instructions appeared to slow, which raised eyebrows among South American media outlets, some of which suggested the ending might have been fixed at that point to eliminate Chile.
Falcao said his comments to his opponents, however, were only meant to be informational and that there was no pact or agreement to lay off the ball at the end of the game.
Despite the lack of a formal agreement, a member of Peru’s coaching staff appeared to suggest that’s what his team did.
“Obviously, at the end, we knew what the other results were and you tell yourself, ‘Calm it down a bit; we mustn’t take any risks,’ ” former Newcastle midfielder Nolberto Solano said (via the Independent).
Chile’s Association of National Soccer Professionals, which some fans have been calling on to file a formal complaint with FIFA over the match’s lackluster ending, said while the evidence is “clear,” it would not file a formal complaint.
“They dismissed this idea because they expect FIFA to take action on the matter on their own and will not take any action to expedite the process or encourage the governing body of world football to take action,” Chile’s Radio Cooperativa reported Thursday.
It’s unclear whether FIFA will take any action at this point. On Thursday, FIFA told ESPN it is “reviewing and analyzing the reports from the referees and the match commissioners for all matches.”
“Events which require further attention may be communicated accordingly,” FIFA added.