When a football game ends 59:1, the loser scores 41 own goals and the title competitor is playing 33:1 at the same time – that’s quite noticeable. That’s what the South African Football Association thought too, and cracked down on it in the fourth division.

There have always been scammers, rascals and vagrants in football. But what happened in the fourth division in South Africa goes far beyond what the simple fan from the street imagines as fraud or a certain slyness. Or to put it another way: the aim of a scammer should be to act as inconspicuously as possible. It is best if the fraud is not recognized at all.

So it’s not very clever when a football game that was pushed ends with 59:1 goals, the losers only have seven players left and 41 own goals are registered in the game report sheet. Whatever the players and officials at fourth-tier Matiyasi FC and Nsami Mighty Birds thought, it wasn’t particularly well thought out. The same goes for the Shivulanis Dangerous Tigers and Kotoko Happy Boys, who drew 33-1 on the same day. Kotoko also ended the game with seven players, but not because of mass dismissals or serious injuries, but because some suddenly felt incredibly tired and stopped playing.

It happened the way it had to. The South African football association Safa did not put up with the brazen fraud and began investigations. The reason for the manipulations: The Matiyasi FC and the Nsami Mighty Birds were desperate to prevent the Shivulani Dangerous Tigers from becoming champions. The Tigers led the table by three points and a 16-goal lead going into the final day of play, usually a safe bet.

The Tigers also reacted with a manipulation at half-time

But not in this case. Miraculously, Matiyasi led 22-0 at the break against the Birds. The Tigers, in turn, found out about this while their game was running parallel. They had to fear for their title and reacted with an extremely clever idea. They “persuaded” opponent Kotoko Happy Boys to continue with only seven players. The Happy Boys did them the favor. The fact that the 33:1 victory was not high enough to win the championship title because the competitor won his game 59:1 is irrelevant. It also doesn’t matter anymore that the referee recorded 41 mysterious own goals in the latter game.

Safa punished the four clubs by banning them from playing. You must never play a regular game again. The association imposed several-year bans on club officials, and the referees were not allowed to blow the whistle for ten years. TheĀ penaltiesĀ for the players are pending. “These people have no respect for football and we cannot allow something like this to happen again,” commented the Safa President of the Mopani Region on the events.

Which: “BBC”