Panama and Costa Rica have formally asked for reviews of CONCACAF’S referee procedures after both countries had questionable calls go against them late in Gold Cup knockout round games against regional power Mexico, according to a person in CONCACAF with knowledge of the requests.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity Friday because he was not authorized to discuss the matter. CONCACAF had announced that the issue had been added for discussion to the agenda of Saturday’s executive committee meeting but did not detail the requests.
In the final minute of extra time in Sunday’s quarterfinal, Mexico was awarded a penalty kick with the game tied 0-0 and converted to beat Costa Rica. Then in Wednesday’s semifinals, Panama led 1-0 when it was called for a hand ball in the box. Mexico again converted in stoppage time, then went on to win in extra time.
The person said Panama requested investigations into the referee committee and its procedures, the people who assign referees to games, all unspecified “suspicious matches,” and referee Mark Geiger.
In a separate letter, Costa Rica made similar requests. It also requested that certain referees not be assigned to its matches in the future.
CONCACAF said in a statement: “The confederation takes these claims extremely seriously and will look into them immediately.”
Earlier Friday, the president of the Panamanian federation, Pedro Chaluja, told reporters that “we feel that that game was fixed.”
“There are third parties with interests, and we know that it can’t be possible that the best-ranked referee in CONCACAF has such a poor and suspicious performance in a game,” he said.
He also noted that “we know that there have been suspicious and strange things going on in several matches in this Cup.”
On Thursday, the federation demanded the removal of CONCACAF’s referee selection panel after describing the officiating in the loss as “insulting and embarrassing.” The statement also accused the match officials of favoring Mexico “in a vulgar and shameless way.”
Two Panama players — forward Luis Tejada and goalkeeper Jaime Penedo — were each suspended two games by CONCACAF on Friday. Penedo was disciplined for pushing the assistant referee after Wednesday’s match. Tejada received a red card, then was punished additionally for not leaving the field “in a timely manner.”
The federation was also fined an undisclosed amount “for team misconduct both on and off the field.”
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