Four Nigerian football clubs have been suspended ahead of an investigation into match-fixing after a race for promotion led to a pair of ridiculous final-day scorelines.
Plateau United Feeders and Police Machine, two amateur sides chasing one spot in Nigeria’s Nationwide League Division 3 – the bottom tier of Nigeria’s professional leagues – needed to out-score the other to ensure they would be the ones turning pro.
However, the Nigerian FA quite understandably grew suspicious of Plateau’s 79-0 win over Akurba FC and Machine’s 67-0 thumping of Babayaro FC.
Making matters fishier, Plateau-Akurba were reportedly 7-0 at half-time while Machine-Babayaro were 6-0 at the interval.
Both winning sides began the tournament with 2-0 wins, before holding each other to a 0-0 stalemate. This meant that if both clubs won their final games, it would come down to goal difference.
But despite Plateau’s second-half goal-rate averaging at an alarming goal every 40 seconds and technically placing them top, all four clubs will instead face disciplinary action.
The NFF called the scores from Monday's tournament in the northeastern city of Bauchi "a mind-boggling show of shame".
"This is a scandal of huge proportions," NFF vice president Mike Umeh said.
"The four teams involved are suspended immediately and indefinitely, pending further sanctions. We will investigate this matter thoroughly and get to the bottom of it."
"The teams involved, their players and officials, match officials, (tournament) coordinator and anyone found to have played some role in this despicable matter (will) be severely dealt with," NFF director of competitions Mohammed Sanusi added.
Bubayaro owner Shuaibu-Gara Ahmed Gombe, who was in Lagos at the time, told the BBC: "As soon as I heard the result, I disbanded the team.
"It's disappointing that some people would bring the game to disrepute out of desperation.
"I have written a petition to the police in Bauchi to investigate this shame and arrest anyone found to be involved."
The Beeb also quoted a journalist who saw Bubayaro's defeat, who wished to remain anonymous.
"In the second half, we started witnessing outrageous own goals, free-kicks and terrible goalkeeping,” they said.
"Feeders blasted goal after goal past Bubayaro. Officials of the club turned into emergency ball boys, instead of retrieving the ball from the net, they quickly threw another ball into the centre circle.
"It was ridiculous, because the losing side didn't make any effort and the officiating was abysmal, with controversial calls being made and unaccounted additional minutes played.
"Some people were on their mobile phones updating officials at the other venue."
- Sports & Recreation