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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 February, 2004, 17:02 GMT
Foul play in Goa goal frenzy
When a football team is leading its rival 1-0 at half time, betting on a final score of 61-1 might not be the wisest investment.

But in the soccer-crazy Indian beachfront state of Goa, teams will clearly go to any lengths to win - and lose.

Second division rivals Curtorim Gymkhana and Wilfred Leisure were locked in a bitter struggle for promotion as the deciding games approached.

Tied on points, Wilfred had to win by seven goals more than Curtorim.

By half-time things were going well for Wilfred, who led Dona Paula Sports Club 7-0.

Curtorim had only the slenderest of margins over Sangolda Lightning.

Then, with officials from both sides frantically phoning in the score of their rival's game and Goa Football Association observers in the crowd after being tipped off for match fixing, the fun began.

Goalie's flight

More than a goal a minute was banged in as Dona Paula and Sangolda contrived to give the ball away at almost every touch.

I have never seen such an unsporting match in my life
Benjamin Silva, referee

Dona Paula's goalkeeper got sick of the booing from the 2,000-strong crowd and wandered off up field, leaving a defender to man the goalposts.

But the goalie didn't go too far - Dona Paula's players soon refused to go into their opponent's half.

Strangely enough, Wilfred left the pitch unsatisfied with a 55-1 victory.

"I have never seen anything like it in my life," said Anthony Marcus, a sports journalist with The Herald newspaper, who was covering the game.

"The Dona Paula players were passing the ball to their rivals blatantly whenever they got possession and on four occasions they scored own goals," said Mr Marcus.

"The team changed goalkeepers three times but nothing improved. When Dona Paula got a chance to score, their player shot over an open goal."

Teams suspended

Clearly, some of the players were aware there might be ramifications for the future - many sought an early exit by feigning injury or attempting to get sent off.

Savio Messias, Goa Football Association secretary
This is a case of an intense village rivalry which has spilled on to the football field and has been taken to absurd levels
Savio Messias,
Goa Football Association

Some were looking at a bright future, including Marcelin Dias, a Sangolda Lightning member who joined India's Under-19 football squad a week ago.

The referee at the Curtorim-Sangolda match, Benjamin Silva, told BBC News Online he thought "something was fishy" in the second half.

"In the first half both teams were good enough. The second half became totally one-sided. I have never seen such an unsporting match in my life," Mr Silva said.

His reaction was nothing compared to the football association.

All four teams were suspended for a year, said the secretary of the 153-team association, Savio Messias.

"It's unbelievable, it's disgraceful. It is difficult to believe that the losing teams allowed over 50 goals to be scored against them without any monetary benefit," Mr Messias said.

Curtorim and Wilfred have long been rivals and are backed by local politicians.

"This is a case of an intense village rivalry which has spilled on to the football field and has been taken to absurd levels," Mr Messias said.

"This year they were going all out to prevent each other from qualifying for the first division."

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