Ta’s Timeout: Bizarre soccer stories

A man in a red shirt hold a Manchester United sign and a soccer ball.
In 2003, Martin Warburton agreed to save the life of his brother, Paul Warburton, by providing stem cells only after his brother agreed to modify his wardrobe to mostly include red clothes in support of Manchester United. (Courtesy of Creative Commons)

Soccer has produced some of the greatest moments in sporting history, like when underdog Leicester City won the English Premier League in 2016 against all odds.

But many of soccer’s best stories have been left largely untold. Here are four of the sport’s most bizarre tales.

149 goals to none 

In the final match of the 2002 Malagasy (Madagascar) football league season, Association Sportive Adema defeated Stade Olympique de l’Emyrne 149 to zero, breaking the world record for most goals scored in a soccer match, according to ESPN. Even more astonishing — they were all own goals.

In the previous game — the penultimate of the season — SO l’Emyrne was well on its way to victory, but then a controversial penalty cost the team the game: SO l’Emyrne tied the match, knocking them out of the running for the championship title, even with one game remaining in the series.  

In the final match — which didn’t affect the outcome of the championship, because AS Adema had already won mathematically — SO l’Emyrne decided to protest the season-ending penalty that they felt was undeserved, according to ESPN. In this unprecedented game, disgruntled SO l’Emyrne players continuously scored on their own net, while the AS Adema team stood around, confused. 

At the end of the match, the SO l’Emyrne players involved in the protest and their coach — who spearheaded the self-sabotage — were temporarily suspended from the league, according to The Guardian. 

One strange rule 

In 1994, Barbados faced Grenada in the qualification round for the Caribbean Cup, according to The Guardian.

Barbados needed to win the match by two goals to progress to the tournament. But toward the end of the match, they were only winning by one goal.  

So organizers implemented an unusual rule for the tournament: In extra time, the first goal won the match and counted as two goals.

With the score at 2-1 for Barbados, the clock running out and Barbados unsure of its chances of scoring another goal on Grenada, the team decided on a bizarre gamble. 

In an effort to force the game into extra time and give the team another opportunity to pull ahead by the requisite two goals, Barbados scored on its own goal, tying the game 2-2.

In extra time, Barbados scored the game-winning goal they needed, winning the match 4-2 and advancing Barbados to the tournament. 

A die-hard fan

Soccer fans take their loyalties seriously, sometimes too seriously. In 2003, a Manchester United fan named Martin Warburton agreed to save his brother’s life by being a stem cell donor for his fight against chronic lymphatic leukaemia, according to The Telegraph. But he had some conditions. 

His brother, Paul Warburton, was a fan of Manchester City, Man. U’s biggest rival. 

To force his dying brother to start supporting Man U., Martin Warburton forced him to sign a contract requiring him to renounce his support for Man. City, join the Man. U fan club, sign up for the club’s T.V. channel, paint his house red — Man U.’s signature color — and modify his wardrobe to include mostly red clothes.

Paul Warburton signed the contract.

Whatever it takes 

In the early 1990s, Cambridge United manager John Beck led the club to its most successful years, in which they shot up in league rankings. But he became notorious for the tricks he used to throw opponents off their game.

Beck would put excessive amounts of sugar in their tea and flood their dressing room so it was damp and depressing when they arrived, according to the Daily Mail.

He even altered the field to benefit his team, such as cutting the grass at different lengths in certain areas to help his team hold possession of the ball.

Danny Ta PO ’22 is a math major from Ontario, California. In his free time, he enjoys being frustrated by the inconsistency of his favorite soccer team, Manchester United.

This article was last updated on Nov. 15 at 12:55 a.m.

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