In 2010, it was uncovered that more than 20 clubs and countless players and managers in Italy’s Serie A had been involved in serious match-fixing. Decades of bans of and thousands of Euro fines were dished out and the football world put the idea of match fixing behind the them.
That was until this past weekend, when two Nigerian amateur teams attempted to out-do each other in fixing their respective matches, eventually racking up 146 goals in two games.
How did it happen? Let’s take a look.
The four local teams: Plateau Feeder, Police Machine, Bubayaro and Akurba, made up one of eight groups of four teams vying for promotion to the Nationwide Amateur League, Nigeria’s lowest professional league.
They would each play each other once, with the first place team moving on.
With Plateau Feeder and Police Machine winning their opening games by the same 2-0 score, the table looked like this:
Clearly the better your name, the better your team. However, it remained very tight even after the second round of matches that both resulted in goalless draws:
So with one game left, Plateau Feeder and Police Machine took on Akurba and Bubayaro respectively. Neither Bubayaro or Akurba had scored, of even sniffed scoring, a goal in a combined 4.5 hours of football, so it looked like the group was going to come down to who scored more goals between Plateau Feeder and Police Machine.
Cue the most ridiculous match-fixing off all time.
Going into the break in each game, Police Machine lead 7-0 over Bubayaro and Plateau Feeder led Akurba 6-0. As things stood, Police Machine were going through:
The famous cliché in football is “it’s a game of two halves”. It appears that should be the motto of Nigerian amateur football. In the second 45-minutes, Police Machine scored a further 61 goals whilst Plateau Feeder added 72 more goals.
(I’ll give you a second to let that sink in….)
133 second half goals. That means if you were a Nigerian local streaming both games on your computer, you would have witnessed a goal every 20 seconds during the second half of the games.
Perhaps more amazingly, the league confirmed the scores and thus the final table looked like this:
However, it didn’t take long for the The Nigeria Football Federation to get involved, saying:
“It is unacceptable – a scandal of huge proportions”
“mind-boggling show of shame”
“The teams are suspended indefinitely, pending further sanctions.”
“The teams involved, their players and officials, match officials, coordinator and anyone found to have played some role in this despicable matter would be severely dealt with”
So it appears the fixers will face stiff penalties for their part in the games.
More amazing than this story perhaps, is the fact that I researched the most goals scored in a game and neither of these game close. In 2002, AS Adema beat Stade Olymique L’Emyrne 149-0.
Amazing huh? It’s about to get even more amazing. AS Adema won without scoring a goal.
“Their opponents, Stade Olymique L’Emyrne, took complete control of the national league game, reducing Adema to the role of onlookers, as they deliberately plonked the ball in the back of their own net 149 times, in protest over a refereeing decision.”