- A soccer team in South Africa was one of four squads to receive a lifetime ban following an investigation into coordinated match-fixing
- One of the teams involved raised some suspicions by scoring 41 own goals over the course of a single game
- Read more soccer stories here
Athletes have been deploying unscrupulous strategies capable of undermining the integrity of their sports for close to two thousand years; the first documented case of match-fixing can be traced back to the tale of a wrestler who was paid to throw a match in Egypt all the way back in the third century.
There are plenty of ways participants can impact the final result of a contest to the benefit of the bettors who are usually poised to benefit, whether we’re talking about a basketball player purposefully bricking shots to preserve the spread or a boxer taking a dive. However, there’s one thing that unites all of those various strategies: the need to pull them off subtly.
Technology has made it easier than ever to crack down on match-fixing and track suspicious betting patterns that serve as the primary red flag. However, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence to supplement a report published earlier this year that proved it’s still alive and well.
Soccer was far and away the sport at the center of most of those scandals, and now, it would appear we can throw a few more into the mix courtesy of what recently unfolded in a fourth-tier league in South Africa.
According to the BBC, four teams in the league in question were subjected to a lifetime ban following a series of games toward the end of the season that featured some truly wild scores.
The saga unfolded toward in May as the Matiyasi FC and the Shivulani Dangerous Tigers were lobbying for the top spot in the rankings, which had the potential to be decided by goal differential. This led to some absolutely wild scores being posted on the final day, as Shivulani walked away with a 33-1 win over the Kotoko Happy Boys only to be outdone by Matiyasi, which won its showdown with the Nsami Mighty Birds by a score of 59-1.
Those jaw-dropping totals resulted in the officials taking a closer look at what unfolded, and it turns out their suspicions were warranted. They determined both of the losing squads played the second half of each game with just seven players on the field after colluding with the winners to throw the game; some Kotoko members simply walked off the pitch after saying they were too tired to continue, while Nsami’s players apparently managed to score 41 own goals over the course of the contest.
When everything was said and done, Gawula Classic (which finished in fourth place) was dubbed the league champion after the three teams above them were relegated into inexistence.
Hey, a win is a win.