Russian team scores 11 own goals so as to meet easier opponent in next round

Two clubs in the winter sport of bandy raced to put the ball into their own nets 20 times on Sunday and now face disciplinary action.

The Russian Super League game in the northern city of Arkhangelsk finished in an 11-9 win for Baikal-Energiya against local club Vodnik. It was 0-0 with 22 minutes to go before Vodnik player Oleg Pivovarov scored three own goals.

Baikal-Energiya responded with nine own-goals in quick succession. Not to be outdone, Pivovarov then put the ball into his own team’s goal eight more times in the final seven minutes.

Both teams now face “very tough measures,” Russian Bandy Federation president Boris Skrynnik told the Tass news agency.

He accused Vodnik of starting the own-goal extravaganza in order to “play against a convenient team” in the upcoming playoffs. Had Vodnik won, it would have faced the league’s reigning champion.

The result mattered less to Baikal-Energiya, which was already assured of facing a much weaker club in the playoffs. As a result, its players “decided to have some fun” and score own goals too, Skyrnnik claimed.

Not well known outside Russia and Scandinavia, bandy is a relative of ice hockey played on a large outdoor rink with a rubber ball. It’s played at semi-professional level in Russia.

Sunday’s game carries echoes of a scandal at the 2012 Olympics in badminton. Eight female players from South Korea, China and Indonesia deliberately made basic errors in the group stage as they tried to manipulate the draw for the next round. All were disqualified from the Olympics.

In soccer, a 2002 Madagascan league game reportedly saw the Stade Olympique de l’Emyrne team score a record 149 own-goals as a protest against what they felt was unfair refereeing.