- Corruption - Football
Togo’s fake match against Bahrain and a smooth scam
The Bahrain national football team played against a fake Togolese national football team on September 7 in Manama. Bahrain emerged winners with a 3 nil scoreline against the Togolese hawks. An investigation opened a day after the match has revealed a superbly organised masquerade.
Unbelievable but true! A football game organized by the Bahrain Football Association (BFA), on September 7, saw a group of footballers posing as the Togolese national team in a friendly match against Bahrain in Manama, as part of the latter’s preparation ahead of the Asian championship which begins on Saturday, September 24.
Not a single player on the pitch belonged to the Togolese football team. The roll call showed persons who had until then never been heard of: Ali Oussana Aboudou Adama, Tiekour Aba etc... The real Togolese team never made it to Manama to the game.
And BFA claim to have used an agent who had in the past organized events of this magnitude on their behalf. Nonetheless, the agent is believed to part of a scam that put a group of fake non-Togolese players together to represent the Togolese national team. The BFA also say they exchanged correspondence with the Togolese football authorities for visa and travel arrangements for the players.
All documents received by the BFA, which eventually enabled them get the approval of FIFA to go ahead with the game, in what concerns the players, were in order.
Said Bahraini official: "The very bad game of the Togolese surprised us, but then to think that we were dealing with a false team was unbelievable..." The Bahraini authorities believed that Togo had sent a reserve team. A hypothesis rejected by their counterparts.
The Togolese team’s French coach, Thierry Forge, confirmed Thursday that the team was anything but Togolese. "After our CAN 2012 game against Botswana in Gaborone (1-2) on Saturday, September 4, the team dispersed. It was impossible to be in Manama. I do not know who played but they were not part of our group," he says.
"We would like to know who was there. Were they local players? If yes, how were they able to travel, buy tickets and leave the country? It’s really weird."
All these queries are being handled by both the Togolese Football Federation (FTF) and the Bahrain Football Association (BFA) by virtue of an investigation that was opened a day after the game.
Togolese Sports Minister, Christopher Tchao, has also expressed utter shock over the news. "Nobody was ever informed of such a game. We will conduct investigations to find all those involved in this case," he said.
"The players who took part in the friendly match against Bahrain were complete fakes. We did not send any team to Bahrain. The players are not known to us," the Chairman of the Togolese Interim Committee, General Memene Seiya was quoted saying on September 14 by The Associated Press.
Adontui Honore, a Togolese journalist, believes that in the absence of General Memene, members of the FTF take individual initiatives. "He should have canceled the game, but he did not," says Adontui. According to him a member of the Togolese Football Federation is the cause of the fake match.
Not the first time
But this is not the first time a dysfunction of this type has occurred. Tchanilé Bana, the former coach of the Hawks, was suspended for two years by the federation after he replaced the national team with an amateur team from his own training centre to play in a tournament organised by Egypt. Togo naturally suffered two heavy defeats: Egypt (0-7) and Morocco (0-5).
According to Dimas Dzikodo, boss of "Le Forum de la semaine ", a Togolese newspaper, Bana Tchanilé could be part of the scam because "he was in the Gulf recently." He is also believed to have an undetermined relationship with some members of the federation.
It should be noted that the sum received by the so-called Togolese team to participate in the match amounted to 200,000 U.S. dollars. A sum that could attract the envy of some members of the federation. The journalist adds that the players were all Nigerians.
In the meantime, whilst awaiting the results of the investigations initiated by the FTF and the BFA, Bana Tchanilé and another member of the FTF are being rumoured as the prime suspects in the organisation of the fake Togo-Bahrain match.