South African teams banned for life after scoring 41 own goals in incredulous match-fixing scandal

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By Martin Graham | 10th Jun 2022

In some very shocking and weird news, four teams in the fourth tier of South African football have been banned for life for match-fixing of incredulous proportions.

Matiyasi FC, Shivulani Dangerous Tigers, Kotoko Happy Boys and Nsami Mighty Birds were found guilty of fixing which saw them win and lose games by ridiculous goal margins.

The four teams were fighting for promotion to the third tier of South African football. Tigers and Happy Boys played each other and Tigers won the game by a whopping 33-1 scoreline while Matiyasi defeated Mighty Birds 59-1. Both matches saw a combined 41 own goals.

Following investigations into the ridiculousness of the outcomes of both matches, the four clubs were found guilty of fixing matches. The South African Football Association has moved to totally ban them from football in the country for their actions as opposed to a deduction of points, a fine and a suspension which is the usual punishment for match-fixing the world over.

What has been said

Vincent Ramphago, the chairman of the investigating team of the South African FA on the issue, spoke to BBC Sport Africa. He said: “Our investigation found Matiyasi and Nsami wanted to stop Shivulani, who at the time were leading with a three-point gap and a goal difference of 16, from topping the league so they agreed on fixing the match to prevent this from happening.

“After hearing Matiyasi were leading 22-0 at half-time, Shivulani colluded to have Kotoko Happy Boys remove players from the field. The players who came off said they were tired, leaving their team with only seven players. In the Matiyasi game meanwhile, the referee gave players red cards so that ended up with seven players.

“When the teams had previously met in March, the scorelines were considerably more sober, with Matiyasi beating Mighty Birds 2-1 while Dangerous Tigers drew 2-2 with Happy Boys. We found the referee was just writing – ‘player number 2 scored 10 goals, player number 5 scored 20 goals’ and so on – but there were 41 own goals, so how were they recording these?”

Match officials banned for eight seasons

Ramphago also stated that the officials of the match had been suspended from officiating in South African football. “These people don’t have respect for football, and we cannot allow it to happen again,” Ramphago added. “What is sad is there are young players involved because the competition rules stipulate that each team has to field at least five players under 21.

“Our main aim in organising leagues is to make sure we groom the young footballers into potential future Bafana Bafana players.”

Meanwhile, manager of Mighty Birds, Neil Thwala, said that he was helpless as the match went on. “In the previous match we played, we were told the referee is part of Shivulane Dangerous Tigers,” he said. “We scored four goals but all of them were disallowed by the referee but then they hit the side netting and the referee said it’s a goal.

“When we reported the matter, but we were told that the referee’s decision is final.

“The players’ minds were not on the game because even if they won, they knew it wasn’t going to help them in any way. I tried as a coach to push them but it was difficult – there was nothing I could do.”

Martin Graham is an MFF sports writer

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