Peru player Renato Tapia has admitted discussing World Cup qualification with Colombia captain Radamel Falcao during their final qualifying match on Tuesday night, but has denied the two sides made a pact.
Monaco forward Falcao was seen talking to Peru players while holding his hand across his mouth during the final few minutes of their 1-1 draw in Lima.
A defeat for Peru in the match would have seen them miss out on the playoff spot, with Chile taking fifth spot, while a win for Peru would have put Colombia at risk.
Several South American media organisations have published images of what they have christened the ‘Lima Pact’.
“In the last five minutes, the Colombians approached us. They knew what the situation was in the other games,” Tapia told local TV.
“So we managed the game as we needed to… I spoke with Radamel, who told me we were both qualified (as things stood), but it’s football and we play to win.”
Falcao has also denied making a pact.
However, when asked after the match what had been said, Falcao replied: “We knew what was happening in the other matches, we were playing with (the knowledge of) the other results and in that moment (I tried) to transmit that (to Peru).”
— Pasión Fútbol (@PasionFutbolFC) October 11, 2017
Former Newcastle United forward Nolberto Solano, now a member of Peru’s coaching staff, also rejected suggestions that a deal had taken place.
“We needed to win, them too. What pact? That’s speculation,” he told local radio.
“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’.”
Despite the denials, it was apparent that both sides were playing for a draw near the end of the game as they kept the ball and showed no urgency to attack.
The accusations come 40 years after Peru threw a game in the 1978 World Cup that helped eventual winners Argentina progress at the expense of Brazil.
Needing to score at least four goals to progress to the final ahead of Brazil, Argentina managed to beat Peru 6-0.
A former Peruvian politician admitted years later that the two countries had made a deal ahead of the match.