Togo's football federation says the “national team” that played an exhibition match against Bahrain on September 7, 2010 was fake. Togo's sports minister says that the team was made up of “unidentified players and their shadowy handlers” who belonged to a “mafia group.” FIFA is investigating the allegations. One blogger has described the story as one of the weirdest stories of the year and another one says it is “one of the most hilarious sports practical jokes of all time.”
Husnain44 says international soccer business seems to be a lot easier than everyone makes out. He has got an idea. He wants to organise a match with the Spanish National Team “…so I’m off to make 10 quick phone calls and then challenge the Spanish national team to a kickabout.”
If you always wanted to play international football but you were not good enough, do not worry:
Have you always wanted to play international football, but were never quite good enough? Not a problem, provided you’re willing to tell a few lies and trick a few people. Because that’s how a team of footballers claiming to be the Togo national team managed to play an international friendly vs Bahrain last week.
Husnain44 wonders why Bahrain only managed to score 3 goals with a fake team:
Looks to me like someone has taken advantage of the disorganization in Togolese football, which had its football federation dissolved by FIFA in December 2009 and will elect new permanent federation members later this year.
The interesting thing here isn’t just that the fake Togolese players and agent were able to arrange and play an international football match without anyone getting suspicious. The really odd thing is that Bahrain only managed to win 3-0. Shouldn’t the Bahrain national team have destroyed these jokers by double digits? This is the same Bahrain team that was just one saved penalty kick away from making the 2010 World Cup instead of New Zealand.
Sounds to me like this international football business is a lot easier than everyone makes out, so I’m off to make 10 quick phone calls and then challenge the Spanish national team to a kickabout.
Derek Catsam asks, “Togo or Not Togo? (Not Togo)”:
Bahrain’s football team wondered why the Togolese team they had just beaten 3-0 last Tuesday played so poorly. Togo, after all, had been one of Africa’s representatives in the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
Well, it turns out that the reason Togo’s team did not seem very good was that they weren’t. Bahrain had played a group of imposters. Apparently a fake agent was able to sell the game to Bahrain (and the friendly appeared on FIFA’s website as well), which is in the process of preparing for the Asian championships and presumably would like to warm up with actual competition. Togo’s sports minister promises to investigate, though there is no indication that there is any wrongdoing in Togolese football circles.
Tayler Reisinger says this is one of the most hilarious practical joke of all time:
Usually a 3-0 Bahrain win over Togo won’t make it into your sports section here in the United States. But when a fake agent may have somehow tricked the Bahrain Football Federation into playing a team full of impostors, you may have one of the most hilarious sports practical jokes of all time.
All that was missing in the game was “a laughing Ashton Kutcher bursting into the victorious locker room”:
Togo is perhaps best known as a surprise qualifier for the 2006 World Cup and Bahrain is a constant threat to advance out of Asian qualifying, so it’s not as if the match could fly completely under the radar. But the “loss” certainly came as a surprise to Togo sports minister Christophe Chao, who apparently had no knowledge that a game was even scheduled.
Everything looked legit to Bahrain, who received approval from what they thought was Togo’s football governing body. It wasn’t until shortly before kickoff when the “Togo” pulled the old switcheroo – all 18 players who dressed for the match were different from the team roster that was given to their opponents in the planning stages.
After Bahrain cruised to a 3-0 win they rightfully began to wonder why the victory was so easy. Maybe it was the fact that they played a bunch of stiffs with Togo jerseys on, and all that was missing was a laughing Ashton Kutcher bursting into the victorious locker room.
PassandMove says this was “One of the weirdest stories of the year so far”:
One of the weirdest stories of the year so far. Bahrain played a bunch of people who said they were the Togo national side, expect it turns out they weren't… Full details here. Reminds me of those stories you here about pub sides going on a tour of Spain and it turning out one of the teams they're playing things West Ham are visiting or something.
Peter Amsel's formula for fixing a soccer match: don't bother to bribe a player or two, just swap the whole team!:
If you’re going to fix a match, don’t bother attempting to bribe a player or two. Hell, just swap out the whole team and be done with it. That’s the apparent modus operandi of one Wilson Raj Perumal, a Singapore native jailed in 1995 for match fixing, who was last in the news as the subject of an investigation by Zimbabwe officials for allegedly dressing up a bunch of unknown scrubs in freshly pressed uniforms and passing them off as the national team at a match in Malaysia last year. Pretty ingenious, if you think about it (but not for too long).
Mr. Perumal’s name has now been linked to the developing scandal involving that international friendly between Togo and Bahrain. Again, the accusation stems from the fact that the players supposedly representing Togo’s national team were actually no-names who may or may not have ever played professional football in any capacity. Seriously, if these allegations are true, then Perumal must make all his lady companions ride in the back of his Jaguar, because his enormous balls would surely take up all the room in the front seats.
The ruse in Bahrain became apparent shortly after the match kicked off, when the supposed Togo players began diving like Greg Louganis (look him up), allowing the Bahrain side to more or less run wild. Bahrain’s coach, former Austrian national team head Josef Hickersberger, chose his words carefully in observing that the Togo side “were not fit enough to play 90 minutes.” Also choosing his words carefully is the supposed Machiavelli of the Match, Mr. Perumal, who told British reporters that “You have got the wrong person.” All righty, then…
If it is so easy to organise an international soccer match, he will invite FIFA to hold the next World Cup qualifier in his backyard and “and have the neighbors over for a real 3D viewing experience…”:
But seriously, we think the more pressing issue that arises from this scandal is precisely how does one organize an international friendly in which one of the participating nations has NO CLUE as to their supposed involvement?…Because, seriously, if pulling off this kind of ruse is this easy, I’m going to invite FIFA to hold the next World Cup qualifier in my backyard and have the neighbors over for a real 3D viewing experience…
If you want a home game against the US National Team get in touch with Alex Haueter. He can fix it for you:
I’ll forgo the obvious questions, like how did Bahrain get suckered into this, how did the “Togo” team pull it off, and how did NO ONE notice, and instead simply ask: Anybody want a home game against the US National Team? I’m scheduling.