Two youth teams accused of deliberately tanking after playing terrible soccer game – For The Win
A pair of teams playing in the U.S. Youth Soccer National Championships’ U18 Girls tournament have been accused of deliberating tanking their match in order to move on.
TopDrawerSoccer.com reported Carlsbad Elite and Ambassadors FC entered their Thursday match against each other at the top of their group and would both move on with a draw. When the final whistle blew, that’s exactly what happened with a 0-0 tie.
But from video purportedly shot at the game, it looked like neither side was trying to score or do much of anything:
Here’s what Ambassadors coach Caleb Fortune told the site, claiming the heat in Texas was a factor:
“Both teams were through pretty much, so there was nothing to play for. Earlier in the day, there had been 18 people collapsed due to the heat. Just at the start of the game, we never fixed the result because we didn’t have to. There was nothing there to play for. 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.
“If you watch the start the players were kind of going back and forth and there was a couple of shots. As the game went on, they stopped pressing and kind of asked what’s the point of running? There’s no reason to do it. 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.”
Tommy Tanner, a director of a Syracuse team eliminated because of the 0-0 tie, told Syracuse.com, “Frankly what happened yesterday is the biggest disgrace that I’ve seen in my 38 years of soccer. It tarnishes the whole national series.”
And here’s more from Syracuse.com about what Tanner saw when he headed over to watch the game in question:
Around halftime of the Syracuse game, Tanner and program assistant coach Mike Kirmse started getting word of some oddities in the Carlsbad-Cleveland game. So they both wandered over to that contest and what they saw left them stunned.
Players on each team were simply taking turns kicking the ball around, with no attempt to attack or play any version of competitive soccer. The advantage to Cleveland was a free ticket to the semis while Carlsbad, who otherwise likely could have pounded its foe, got what amounted to a day off.
U.S. Youth Soccer issued a statement on Saturday in response to the accusations, but didn’t find enough evidence to deem it complete collusion:
After meeting with both teams, the Committee found the teams were disrespectful to the game, the competition and US Youth Soccer. The integrity of the National Championships Series Competition is predicated on fair play and sportsmanship by all participants and those ideals were compromised.
Upon completion of a thorough investigation, including interviews with the teams in question and game officials, the NCS Committee did not find sufficient evidence of collusion. However, it determined the coaches may have had a material effect on the outcome of the match. Disciplinary action and monetary fines have been assessed to both teams.
While it supports the disciplinary process of the National Championship Series, the US Youth Soccer Board of Directors is also investigating this matter to determine whether potential violations of US Youth Soccer bylaws occurred, or if the actions of the coaches were adverse to the best interests of soccer or US Youth Soccer.
While each team worked hard on the first two days of play to put themselves in a position to advance, we believe the strategy of the coaches in this game failed their players, the competition and the principles of sportsmanship and fair play.
US Youth Soccer will review its policies and make any necessary alterations to ensure this type of display doesn’t happen in the future.