South Africa’s football match-fixing scandal is so outrageous it’s comical

Posted: June 11, 2022, 8:36 a.m.

Last update: June 11, 2022, 8:36 a.m.

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

South African Football Federation match-fixing
Matiyasi Football Club pose for a team photo. The club was hit with a lifetime ban after South African football officials ruled the team had fixed their match last month. (Image: South African Football Association)

The expansion of legal sports betting in the United States has led professional and collegiate sportspeople to hire third-party monitors to monitor suspicious betting activity. The idea is that if a group of bettors are betting heavily on an unlikely outcome, and that outcome comes true, the integrity of the game could have been compromised by rogue outside influences.

However, no qualified monitoring service was needed to detect the dishonest actions that took place last month in South Africa.

On May 22, the best Shivulani Dangerous Tigers and Matiyasi FC occupied first and second place respectively. But with just one game left, the Fourth Division title was in the hands of the Dangerous Tigers.

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

59-1 Victory

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

Matiyasi won the match 59-1 against Nsami. The match was a most absurd ‘contest’ as Nsami’s players fielded little defense and even scored goals into the wrong net to increase the score. SAFA believes the match referees were also in on it.

These people have no respect for football, and we cannot allow this to happen again,” said SAFA MP Vincent Ramphago.

The nonsense didn’t end with the Matiyasi-Nsami match. Upon learning that Matiyasi was leading 22-0 at halftime, Shivulani agreed with their season-ending opponents Kotoko Happy Boys to kick off their match as well.

Shivulani won 33-1 in his own pathetic solution. To add to the scandal, the SAFA fourth tier league is a player development program which requires having at least five players under the age of 21 competing at any given time.

“Our investigation revealed that Matiyasi and Nsami wanted to prevent Shivulani from dominating the log, so they agreed to fix the match to prevent that from happening,” Ramphago explained.

Permanent bans

SAFA’s investigation into the fictitious matches revealed that all four clubs had breached the association’s rules. As a result, they will no longer be allowed to participate at any SAFA level. Along with lifetime bans for Shivulani, Matiyasi, Nsami and Kotoko, SAFA announced temporary bans for 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 are not exactly unprecedented in African football. In 2013, two Nigerian clubs were suspended for 10 years after recording 79-0 and 67-0 wins.

The strangest football match 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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