By Joseph Viney (@jjviney)
For a lot of football fans international friendlies are more trouble than they’re worth. They are cited as meaningless and present a disruption to the flow of a league season – or, more importantly, people’s Fantasy Football teams.
One of last night’s fixtures saw two revered titans of the game square off: Gibraltar and Liechtenstein. The former have only been playing competitively for under two and half years and immediately became European football’s new whipping boys alongside the likes of San Marino and Andorra.
The latter – officially a Principality – have fared a little better in their 34-year lifespan, despite receiving their record defeat at the hands of the mighty Macedonia: an 11-1 drubbing in November 1996.
It’s fair to say that nobody expected a game for the ages when the two sides met at Gibraltar’s Victoria Stadium, and… well, they were right.
They huffed and puffed along to a 0-0 finish but despite the lack of anything even approaching goalmouth action, the match definitely provided its fair share of notably bizarre incidents.
If you’d been relying on the BBC or the Guardian’s live score updates for this blockbuster clash, you’d have been forgiven for thinking that it hadn’t taken place at all.
Indeed, The BBC failed to update the game’s status from kick-off…
While every other game received a full-time score, the Gibraltar match still registered as not even having started.
The Guardian went one step further and didn’t even list the game at all…
The weirdness didn’t end there. Liechtenstein had three goals ruled out by Welsh referee Ryan Stewart, one of them a free kick which was chalked off with no apparent infringement occurring.
— FootballGib SC (@FGScoreCentre) March 23, 2016
Twitter user @aidan_2807 stated that after the three goals had been disallowed, a Gibraltar player walked off the pitch to be replaced only to high five the referee on his way to the dugout.
3 goals have been disallowed in the Gibraltar game an a Gibraltar player just got subbed and high fived the ref on the way off haha #fixed
— aidan (@aidan_2807) March 23, 2016
Other Tweeters soon began peddling a couple of choice conspiracy theories, the main one of which revolved around the amounts of money put on a seemingly innocuous game.
One user even tweeted UEFA, demanding Ryan Stewart be investigated for a game that he felt was “obviously fixed”.
£421,000 matched on betfair for Gibraltar v Liechtenstein. Three goals disallowed apparently. Who bet on a draw? #justsaying
— alexis zorba (@teletext_alex) March 23, 2016
— Rich (@GamblerRich99) March 23, 2016
Let us be very clear here. We are in no way accusing anybody involved in the game or at any other level of being involved in anything irregular or illegal.
Instead, we are simply presenting both facts and opinions surrounding events on the field and pointing out that some of the goings-on were a bit on the odd side.
It’s certainly a strange case though, and one that looks to have dipped under word football’s radar.