The closing moments of a penalty shootout in Nigeria went viral earlier this week when Remo Stars appeared to deliberately lose their Ogun State FA Cup final against Ijebu United in comical fashion.
Allegations of match-fixing were rife on social media and, after viewing the footage, it’s easy to see why.
The viral clip included two spot-kicks, both of which looked highly dubious.
First, the Remo Stars goalkeeper stood completely still for one of Ijebu United’s penalties, staying rooted to his line while watching the ball hit the back of the net.
If there was any doubt that something dodgy was going on, it was essentially confirmed when Remo Stars took a penalty of their own.
The team’s as-yet-unnamed player walked up to take the spot kick and then promptly sent the ball out for a throw-in with a horrible swipe of his boot.
The individual involved clearly had no intention of scoring, but still put his hands to his head in hilarious fashion, pretending to be bitterly disappointed by his ‘miss’.
Nobody was taken in by his reaction, though.
It’s some of the strangest footage we’ve seen in a while. If you’ve not managed to catch it yet, we’ve got you covered below.
If this isn’t Match Fixing, then I don’t know what it is.
Why is Nigerian football like this? Why don’t we ever want progress??
This is Ogun State FA Cup final between Remo Stars and Ijebu United 💔💔
— Ibukun Aluko (@IbkSports) July 14, 2022
Fans on social media were appalled by the footage as Twitter was flooded with comments blasting Remo Stars for throwing the final.
However, it now seems there’s more to the story than meets the eye.
Why did Remo Stars deliberately miss their penalties in Nigeria’s Ogun State FA Cup final?
Having endured days of online criticism, Remo Stars have revealed that their behaviour in the shootout was actually itself a protest against corruption.
“Well, first on the allegations of match-fixing, this is totally false,” club secretary, Michael Onikute, told Goal.
“What I can deduce from the social media posts is that some individuals are trying to get much attraction by posting the [penalties] video with the word match-fixing – because they know it would alert the football world.
End of season quiz: How much do you remember about the 21/22 football campaign?
“You will also see that they never presented a concrete explanation about the game rather than match-fixing.
“That shows the level of unprofessionalism of such journalists involved in the propaganda.
“If indeed the match was fixed, we would not have streamed the game live on our social media channels,” Onikute reasoned.
Man City eye Saka | Reaction via The Football Terrace
He continued: “That being said, the game in question was not even credible enough to be on any sports betting platform and all team members are banned from taking part in any form of betting activities,” addressing concerns that the club’s players might have benefitted financially from the deliberate loss.
Explaining the background to the club’s decision to end the final in the way they did, Onikute claimed that the team had not even wanted to take part in the shootout, but had been threatened with suspension if they refused to complete the match.
“We as a team were utmost disappointed with the level of organization, coordination and officiating of the games in the state cup.
“Just before the end of the normal time, the match officials ended the match without the additional time and before the end of the 90th minute so the game could end in penalties.
“We opted not to play the penalties, but the Ogun State FA insisted we played, or risk being banned.”
It’s seemingly not the first time Remo Stars have felt harshly treated in the competition, either, leading to the team deciding to make a stand during the bizarre shootout.
“We have been facing this challenge every year we play in the State FA Cup, and we felt we should make a statement against this,” Onikute added.
“In fact, we have not reached the final in the last five years because of this same reason. Our decision may be weird, but I am sure the organizers now know our stand and they will do better next time.”
For the record, Ijebu United ‘won’ the shootout 3-0 and were crowned champions.
It’s not the way that Remo Stars would have imagined ending their cup campaign, but they’ve certainly succeeded in bringing the Ogun State FA Cup to the attention of the football community.
Hopefully next season’s competition can be completed free of controversy.