Nigeria played Scotland yesterday in a friendly at Craven Cottage in London. A day before the game, The Guardian reported that the National Crime Agency was concerned that the game might be “targeted by match fixers.” One Nigerian fan held up a sign outside the ground before the game that read “Nigerians Don’t Fix Matches, We Win Them.” They didn’t win this one—it ended 2–2—but an own goal by Nigerian keeper Austin Ejide furrowed brows the world over when he appeared to toss the ball into his own net.
The goal was disallowed for a foul committed in the box, but one wonders if this is a portentous sign. Match-fixing is nothing new in club soccer—the subject is given a thorough examination in a new book by ESPN the Magazine writer Brett Forrest called The Big Fix—but it’s never been uncovered on the sport’s most illustrious stage, the World Cup. If it were, could the sport ever recover?