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BERNE (Reuters) - Guatemala have been warned they could be suspended by FIFA after three internationals, including two of the country's most capped players, had life bans for match-fixing overturned.
FIFA said it had written to the Guatemala FA warning that last week's decision by Court of Honour of the Autonomous Sports Confederation of Guatemala (CDAG) constituted third-party interference in a sporting matter.
"In the letter, FIFA stresses the fact that the fight against match-fixing is one of the crucial challenges that global sport faces today and that the Guatemala FA had been praised for the firm action taken in 2012 to eradicate match fixing in the country," said football's governing body in a statement.
"Furthermore, FIFA notes that the three sanctioned players had the possibility to follow an adequate process at the sporting jurisdictional level.
"(FIFA) considers that the decision apparently taken by CDAG constitutes a clear violation of the FIFA statutes with regards to the independence of the member associations and the non-interference of third parties."
Guillermo Ramirez, Yony Wilson and Gustavo Cabrera were banned for life by the Guatemalan FA in September. Those bans were later extended worldwide by FIFA.
The three games the players were accused of being involved in fixing included one club match - the CONCACAF Champions League game between Mexico's Santos Laguna and Guatemalan club CSD Municipal which Santos won 6-1 in October, 2010.
The players were also found to have been involved in fixing Guatemala's 3-2 friendly defeat by Costa Rica in May 2012 and last June's 2-0 loss in a friendly against Venezuela.
The case was denounced by other players to coach Ever Almeida who took it to the Guatemalan federation.
Ramirez and Cabrera are among Guatemala's most capped players, having each taken part in four World Cup qualifying competitions.
"FIFA has asked the Guatemala FA to take the relevant measures to preserve its independence and solve this issue, and to inform football's world governing body by March 18 about those measures," FIFA added.
"If this is not done, then FIFA will have no choice but to present this matter to the relevant bodies within the organisation in order to take the appropriate measures, which could include a suspension of the association.
"The commitment of all stakeholders, including not only the sports organisations, but also the police, governments and judicial bodies worldwide is required in order to win the battle against match-fixing.
"Without a coordinated approach from all stakeholders, it will not be possible to succeed in this fight."
Central America is seen as especially vulnerable to match-fixing as many clubs struggle financially, playing conditions are poor, salaries low and players sometimes do not get paid on time.
(Writing by Brian Homewood in Berne; Editing by Ed Osmond)