Local French league investigating 'suspected fraud' in 22-1 victory
Marseille, May 10, 2022 (AFP) - A French regional league said it will investigate 'suspected fraud' after a match ended 22-1 allowing the winner to seal promotion.
But the president of the losers, FC Septemes, said his team was so depleted they were lucky to only lose to Arles by 21 goals.
Eric Borghini, the president of the Mediterranean Football League, said the investigation will open with a meeting on Wednesday.
There is only one promotion slot from the 12-team league, known officially as Regional 2, Pool C, to Regional 1.
Arles entered the penultimate round of the season second to Martigues Reserves by nine on goal difference.
They would have ended it in first place if the result had not been suspended by the league.
Arles said in a statement that they had been rewarded for their hard work on the training ground.
"All week long, the Arles players have been working to prepare for this decisive match in the final stretch of the championship with four training sessions. Coach Michel Estevan particularly insisted on the attacking work," said the statement, adding that big scores were not unusual in the league.
The other matches on Sunday included a 10-0 victory for Cannes Reserves, while Martigues won 6-0.
"In a division where 32 goals were scored in the other five matches, where one team conceded a total of 109 goals, where four reserve teams of National 2 clubs are playing... where many teams only turn up with 11 players, sometimes veterans, even 50 years old, where there is a huge gulf between the teams at the top and the bottom of the table, should we be blamed for having scored goals when it was possible?" asked the club.
Reports said the Septemes, from the outskirts of Marseilles, had cobbled together a side from members of their reserves and third team, with their coach and an assistant, aged over 50, also playing and an outfield player keeping goal.
"Logically we should have let in 30 or 40 goals," club president Salah Nasri told a local newspaper.
"We wanted to finish the season honourably, without forfeiting and thus maintain the ethics of the league," he added.
There is one round of matches still to play, when Martigues travel to Noves to play bottom club O Novais who have picked up just three points while conceding 109 goals and scoring 14 in their 21 games.
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