Nigeria’s Football Federation will launch an investigation into alleged match fixing between the newly crowned champions of the Ogun State FA Cup, Ijebu United Football Club and the runners-up, Remo Stars.
Remo Stars lost 3-0 on penalties to Ijebu United in the final of the Ogun State FA Cup, the state qualifying tournament where both sides finalists qualify for the NFF/Aiteo Cup competition.
But a video circulated widely on social media showed the Remo Stars goalkeeper doing nothing to stop the opposition penalties, while their outfield players fired their spot kicks wide enough to reach the touchline.
Mohammed Sanusi, general secretary of the Nigeria Football Federation, described the incident as “embarrassing” and told ESPN that an investigation will be launched.
“There will be an investigation,” he said. “It is very, very embarrassing. I have already directed the head of the NFF Head of Integrity to handle the investigation.”
A source close to Remo Stars owner Kunle Soname told ESPN that the club decided to deliberately lose the shootout in protest at perceived poor treatment of the club by the Ogun State FA and consistent controversial calls from the referee.
“Our club has been constantly treated poorly by the FA, and we did not even want to enter for this competition but we were prevailed upon to enter for it. At the final, the referee made some dodgy calls, even denying us what was a clear penalty kick,” the source said.
“The referee wanted the game to go to penalties, he signaled just one minute of additional time.
“That was the last straw for us, and we decided we would not play the penalty shootout and they should simply give us the silver medals for second place. But they told us we had to play or we could be disqualified for not concluding the game and putting the game to disrepute.
“So we said we could play, but playing does not mean we have to score.”
However, following widespread backlash, the official said the club now regret the action and are braced for whatever sanction will be imposed.
“In retrospect, we can now see that that was a mistake as well. It is being made to look even worse than our initial decision not to play at all,” the source added.
Sanusi said NFF President Amaju Pinnick, who is in Morocco for the Women’s Africa Cup of Nations, has added his weight to the investigation, while Ogun State Football Association chairman Ganiyu Majekodunmi said they are looking into the matter.
Barring disqualification, Remo Stars will join Ijebu United as the Ogun State representatives to the National FA Cup competition.