Lyon rout fires controversy
Gomis (R) scored four goals for Lyon in a seven-goal victory. Domagoj Vida’s gesture (inset) fueled rumors of match fixing. AP photo
France’s betting watchdog said yesterday that “no particular anomaly” had been found during their probe into Lyon’s shock 7-1 Champions League win over Dinamo Zagreb, which included the fastest ever hat-trick in Europe’s premier football competition.
France’s online gaming authority ARJEL opened their investigation after the match in Zagreb on Wednesday night which gave the French side a surprise ticket to the last 16 of the competition at the expense of Ajax Amsterdam.
Lyon’s victory in Zagreb, coupled with Real Madrid’s 3-0 win in Amsterdam, meant the French side upset the odds to leapfrog Ajax and finish second in Group D on goal difference behind the Spaniards to reach the last 16 of Europe’s elite competition.
The lopsided result helped Lyon advance to the last 16 of the Champions League. Combined with the apparent ease with which it scored some of its goals, the score sparked online chatter the match may have been fixed, although there was no immediate evidence of this, the Associated Press reported.
Lyon failed to score before Dinamo midfielder Jerko Leko was sent off in the 28th minute and even trailed 1-0 in the first half before its unlikely comeback.
A photo taken from a television still of the match also fueled the debate. In the photo, Dinamo Zagreb defender Domagoj Vida was seen winking to Lyon forward Bafetimbi Gomis right after the fifth goal.
Dinamo Zagreb executive president Zdravko Mamic was involved in a match-fixing investigation last year.
Despite the claims, Ajax coach Frank de Boer said he did not believe the allegation in the Lyon win, Reuters reported.
“On this stage a 7-1 away win is an exception. Maybe I’m naive when I think it normally doesn’t work like this, but if Zagreb gave the match away they should be punished,” De Boer said after a night that consigned Ajax to the Europa League. “But I think it is hard to find any evidence in this case.”
Earlier yesterday, online betting authority (ARJEL) said in a statement it was looking into the Zagreb-Lyon game, which is routine procedure for every match with a big score.
ARJEL was expected to announce yesterday whether there is any evidence of possible match-fixing.
De Boer said he was disappointed that two Ajax “goals” were ruled offside as TV replays indicated that they should have stood.
With Real leading 1-0, Nicolas Lodeiro headed the ball into the net but the linesman raised his flag. He did so again minutes later when Miralem Sulejmani deflected a shot from Vurnon Anita into the Madrid goal.
“That is a bitter taste because with a 2-2 halftime score there wasn’t any problem at all. Madrid weren’t really determined to win this match,” said De Boer. “I can’t blame the referee [Portuguese Manuel De Sousa] for his decisions as he follows his linesman, who should retire in my opinion.
But we should only blame ourselves as we failed to clinch a point with the chances we created.”