Mystery men

'Fake' Togo team played Bahrain in friendly

September 15, 2010
By ESPNsoccernet staff

A "fake" Togo national team played against Bahrain in an international friendly last week, prompting an investigation from the African nation's sports ministry and FIFA.

Bahrain's Ismail Abdulatif in action against Qatar
GettyImagesBahrain's Ismail Abdulatif in action against Qatar days before the fake match

Bahrain beat who they thought was the Togo national team 3-0 in Bahrain last Tuesday, but Togo officials have claimed to have no knowledge of the match. It has emerged the players may not have been professional footballers or even Togolese nationals but mystery still surrounds their true identity.

Sheik Ali bin Khalifa Al Khalifa, vice president of the Bahrain football federation, has insisted the match was legitimate and that the confusion has been created by a conflict between the Togo sports ministry and the interim Togo football federation. Al Khalifa did concede that the Togo team, which was not expected to feature the country's Europe-based star, was still suspiciously weak.

Further complicating matters was Al Khalifa's admission that the BFF was launching an investigation into the company that arranged the match, a FIFA-approved organisation based in Singapore. Other reports claim a fake agent sold the match to Bahrain.

The chairman of Togo's interim federation, installed after FIFA dissolved the previous body last year, claimed the team was "completely fake".

Seiyi Memene told AP: "We cannot send our players to play friendly matches abroad without the approval of FIFA. The players that took part in the friendly match against Bahrain were completely fake. We have not sent any team of footballers to Bahrain. The players are not known to us."