Thursday, December 1, 2022

South African Football Match-Fixing Scandal So Outrageous It’s Comical

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Posted on: June 11, 2022, 08:36h. 

Last updated on: June 11, 2022, 08:36h.

Four South African football clubs determined guilty of fixing their matches have been banned indefinitely from the South African Football Association (SAFA).

South African Football Association match-fixing
The Matiyasi Football Club poses for a team photo. The club has been hit with a lifetime ban after South African Football officials ruled the team fixed its game last month. (Image: South African Football Association)

The expansion of legal sports betting in the US resulted in pro and collegiate athletics contracting third-party monitors to keep tabs on suspicious betting activity. The thinking is that if a slew of bettors wager heavily on an unlikely outcome, and that outcome comes true, the integrity of the game could have been jeopardized by rogue outside influences.

No skilled monitoring service was needed, however, to detect the dishonest actions that occurred last month in South Africa.

On May 22, the table-topping Shivulani Dangerous Tigers and Matiyasi FC respectively sat in first and second place. But with just one match remaining, the fourth-tier league title was squarely in the Dangerous Tigers’ control.

Matiyasi’s finale was against the Nsami Mighty Birds. With both clubs being Shivulani rivals, the teams conspired to allow Matiyasi to overcome their 16-goal deficit in the table to bypass the Dangerous Tigers and win the league title. The league winner has the opportunity to be promoted to the SAFA second tier.

59-1 Win

A match-fixing investigation carried out by SAFA officials concluded that Matiyasi club officials and players conspired with Nsami to throw the game. They made little effort to conceal their plot.

Matiyasi went on to win the match 59-1 over Nsami. The match was a most absurd “contest,” as Nsami players fielded little defense and even scored goals in the wrong net to run up the score. SAFA believes the match referees were in on the baloney, too.

These people don’t have respect for football, and we cannot allow it to happen again,” said SAFA Deputy Vincent Ramphago.

The nonsense didn’t end with the Matiyasi-Nsami match. Upon hearing of Matiyasi being up 22-0 at halftime, Shivulani colluded with their season-ending opponent, the Kotoko Happy Boys, to throw their game, too.

Shivulani went on to win 33-1 in their own pathetic fix. Adding to the scandal is that the SAFA fourth-tier league is a player development program that requires each time to have at least five players under the age of 21 competing at any given time.

“Our investigation found that Matiyasi and Nsami wanted to stop Shivulani from topping the log so they agreed on fixing the match to prevent this from happening,” Ramphago explained.

Permanent Bans

The SAFA’s probe of the sham matches found that all four clubs violated association rules. As a result, they will no longer be permitted to participate in any SAFA tier. Along with lifetime suspensions for Shivulani, Matiyasi, Nsami, and Kotoko, SAFA announced temporary bans for the referees ranging from five to eight seasons. Specific bans for individual players have yet to be decided.

While the 59-1 and 33-1 “matches” were absurd, they aren’t exactly unprecedented in African football. In 2013, two Nigerian clubs were handed 10-year bans after recording wins of 79-0 and 67-0.

The most outlandish football fix came 20 years ago when a league match in Madagascar resulted in a 149-0 win for AS Adema over SO L’Emyrne.

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