Corruption has always been a part of sports on one level or another. Sometimes, athletes take performance enhancement drugs. Other times, corrupt league and team officials combine their powers for a mutually beneficial game result. I think the worst of it, however, is when players get involved “fixing” games. That may or may not be what happened with Nigerian Goalie Austin Ejide on Wednesday.
First of all, let’s go back to early last week, when NCA (basically the British FBI) officers tipped off FIFA officials regarding some chatter the NCA had picked up about this game. Apparently, the NCA had reason to believe gamblers were targeting this game in particular for a possible fix. I think most of the chatter involved players on the Nigerian side, as reports have shown that no Scottish players were suspected of being involved.a Now, why someone would try to fix a friendly, and not an actual World Cup game, I don’t know; but then again, criminals are gonna criminal.
Nothing out of the ordinary seemed to be going on with the game until the 32nd minute. Scotland, up 1-0 at the time, booted a corner kick into the box. Ejide sprung towards the ball to grab it, knowing full well that a collision with a Scottish attacker was imminent. Bravely, he lept at the ball anyway, and snatched it from the air just before Scotland’s attacker made contact. It was an impressively fearless move, worthy of praise. Then, in one motion and while still in the air, Ejide seemed to basically sneakily throw the ball into his own net. The goal was disallowed because a foul was called on Scotland, but it seems the attempt was definitely there to put the ball in the net. Watch the video below and tell me he’s not throwing the ball into his own net on purpose.
Did you see it? Anyway, Nigeria eventually tied the game, but a ridiculous own goal in the 52nd minute gave Scotland a 2-1 lead. I think that particular one was more of a mistake than an attempt to purposefully fix the match, but I guess you have to question everything after seeing Ejide’s play, don’t you?
Nigeria ended up tying the game in the 90th minute, which is how this contest ended. However, that was hardly what anyone cared about after the final whistle. I know some will say that he lost contact with the ball when he was hit by the Scotsman, or that he didn’t know where he was and he was trying to throw the ball to his defenders for help, but come on. Number one, the latter is ridiculous. This man’s job is to be in that box and stop shots. There should never be a case where he doesn’t know exactly where he is and what he’s doing. If he was trying to throw the ball to a defender and threw it into the goal by accident, then he’s an idiot. As far as the ball being jarred loose, it just doesn’t look that way to me on the video. Nobody hits his arm, and he clearly propels it backwards.
Nigerian coach Stephen Keshi stood by his goalie, and had this to say about the incident:
“We’re not gamblers, we are football players. I don’t even know where that is coming from, we don’t know what happened, match-fixing or no match-fixing. This is the first time I’ve been a coach or been a player and the first time I’m hearing this, match-fixing. I don’t think it had anything to do with our build-up or the game.”b
All this being said, I sincerely hope we never see Ejide in net for Nigeria again. He’s either a corrupt asshole, or a complete idiot and a terrible goalie. Either way, I hope coach Keshi does the right thing and sits Ejide down in Brazil…. give him another four years to think about what he’s done.
Featured image courtesy of: BBC.com
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