BLANTYRE, Malawi — Four soccer referees in the southern African country of Malawi have been banned for life for match-fixing after they received just $20 between them to fix a game and returned $15 to the team doing the bribing because it still lost.
Referee Aziz Nyirenda, assistant referees Limbani Chisambi and Stephano Gomani, and fourth official Jimmy Phiri, were all found guilty of fixing a national cup match between lower league team Nchalo United and Chitipa United.
The match-fixing was revealed after Nchalo United, the team that bribed the refs, lost in a penalty shootout after a 1-1 draw and demanded its money back. When the referees could only stump up $15, Nchalo went to the authorities.
No sanctions have been announced against the team but there is a case against Nchalo pending.
The life ban for the four officials was announced by the Malawian referees association.
Although the result wasn’t what they were aiming for, Malawi National Referees Association general secretary Chris Kalichero said there was still an "element of game-fixing" by the officials and "when you commit such a crime, a life ban is the punishment."
Chisambi, one of the assistant referees, denied wrongdoing, saying ""I never took (a) share of the money. It is so sad that my career has ended in this manner."
Last year, another referee in Malawi was banned for life for incompetence.