Strange end to the season

The 2021 World Series of Poker is just two days away, but I want to talk about something else in the gambling world for a few minutes: Ghana professional soccer. That is not a sentence I ever thought I would write or say 20 years ago, but here we are. The controversy involves a player’s attempt to foil an alleged match-fixing scheme and the lifetime ban from the sport he now faces because of it.

The scandal dates back to a July 17 match between Ashantigold fc and Inter Allies FC, the final game of the regular season for both teams. Ashantigold blitzed Inter Allies 7-0, which, while unusual in the size of the blowout, was not completely shocking considering Inter Allies was the worst team in the league and was frequently shut out.

What was extremely strange, though, was that Inter Allies defender Hashmin Musah scored two own goals, the final two goals of the game. And on top of that, he clearly did so intentionally. This wasn’t some bizarre fluke accident. He dribbled the ball directly to his goal and shot it.

Strong allegations

Afterward, Musah readily admitted that he not only scored the own goals on purpose, but that he made his plan known before he even entered the game as a reserve. He explained that he had heard of a plot to rig the score 5-1 in favor of Ashantigold to benefit some sort of gambling ring. Players on each team were involved, he said, and he simply didn’t want anyone to be rewarded for fixing the game.

Speaking with Kumasi FM, Musah said, “I heard it in our hotel that there was a correct scoreline of five goals to one against my club Inter Allies. I decided to spoil that bet because I don’t condone betting.”

Had the score actually ended up to be 5-1, it is unlikely anyone would have noticed or cared. Inter Allies was terrible and was already being relegated, so another loss didn’t matter. Ashantigold’s place in the standings wouldn’t change. It was effectively a meaningless final match.

But Musah’s intentional own goals raised eyebrows, so now the game got attention. He claimed that he even told the coach that if he entered the game, he was going to score own goals to ruin the bet and that after his game, his teammates congratulated him.

League comes down hard on those involved

After an investigation by the Ghana Football Association (GFA), a total 18 players and six officials on both teams have been charged with various violations of league regulations. Thus, it seems like there is some veracity to Musah’s story. Unfortunately for him, he is one of the players charged. Among his specific charges include aiding in a fixed match, doing something to “bring the game into disrepute,” (two counts), and conspiring to “distort the result of a match in a manner incompatible with sporting ethics.”

Hopefully, if the accusations of match-fixing are true, Musah will be cleared of all charges. He obviously didn’t participate in the match fixing, so that charge would be bogus (again, if his story is proven correct), and the other two charges are the direct result of him trying to stop the rigged game.

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