Some of you will have read about the story that one of India's opponents in the 2011 Asian Cup, Bahrain hosted African side Togo in an international friendly in Manama on September 7. The side from the Gulf won 3-0 against a poor Togolese side, so questions about Togo came-up and thereafter the news came out in the international media that Bahrain faced a team which was actually not the Togo national team nor any other official side sanctioned by the Togo Football Federation.
Bahrain is said to have paid the Togo FF and the involved match agent fees in the region of 500,000 US Dollar for the game. And it has become a major embarrassment for both Bahrain and Togo. Especially the Africans are now trying to put the puzzle together on who were the men behind the team, who were the players and who was paid the money.
Former Togo national coach Tchanile Bana, who is said to be one of the masterminds behind the scandal, is now 'on the run' according to Col. Damehane Yark, commander of the Togolese National Paramilitary Gendarmerie. Bana has openly stated he recruited the unknown Togolese players for the fraud team and he has already been banned for three years for to his involvement.
Football in Togo is already in turmoil as the Togolese Football Federation was last December dissolved by FIFA and an interim panel was installed until a new body could be elected. Those elections are set for October 16, in a few weeks' time. Also the real Togo national team had been attacked in January 2010 on their way to the African Cup of Nations in Angola.
The Togo Sports Minister Christopher Chao has ordered an investigation into the matter and first arrests have been made. Two men were arrested on Thursday for their involvement, the former sports minister and member of Togo FA interim committee Antoine Folly and the TFF's administration secretary Mamadou Doucoure. More arrests are likely to follow.
A really bizarre story, but it sadly isn't the first time that an African country is involved in something like this. I remember a story a few years ago about a match between Zimbabwe and El Salvador in Harare and the central American side wasn't the national team, some players weren't even footballers.