South African fourth-tier sides Matiyasi FC, Shivulani Dangerous Tigers, Kotoko Happy Boys and Nsami Mighty Birds have been banned for life after being found guilty of fixing matches.
Tigers and Matiyasi were fighting for the top position to gain promotion; the former claimed a 33-1 win over Happy Boys as Matiyasi defeated Mighty Birds 59-1.
This obviously caught the attention of administrators and investigations were done, with the clubs found guilty.
“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,” Vincent Ramphago, who is the president of the Mopani region, told BBC Sport Africa.
“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 score lines were considerably more sober, with Matiyasi beating Mighty Birds 2-1 while Dangerous Tigers drew 2-2 with Happy Boys.”
The administrator further said that many of the goals had not even been properly registered by match officials. “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?”, he said.
Apart from the clubs being banned, the officials from the involved teams have also been suspended for five to eight seasons. “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.”
Mighty Birds coach Neil Thwala says he was helpless to stop the bizarre series of events. “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.”