A number of month’s back I wrote about the impact incentives can have on football matches thanks to a story that Dr Liam Lenten brought to my attention. The story tells how in 1994 Barbados became surely the first team in world football that had to defend both their own goal and that of their opponents for a three minute spell!
Last week, UCC student Daniel Coakley brought a similar, but not identical story, to my attention which again illustrates the power of incentives. The story comes from the 1998 ASEAN Football Championship, then called the Tiger Cup.
For those unfamiliar with football in in the Far East, the ASEAN Football Championship is a biennial competition organized by the ASEAN Football Federation and is contested by the national teams of Southeast Asia. Previous winners include Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia.
The 1998 tournament hosted by Vietnam saw Thailand and Indonesia meet in their final Group Stage game. With both countries already qualified, the teams knew that the winners of the match would face tournament hosts and favourites Vietnam in the semi-final. As neither team wished to face Vietnam the game quickly became a non-event from the off with neither side attacking.
After some lackluster defending, the game was tied at 2 – 2 entering second half additional time. It was at this point that Indonesian defender Mursyid Effendi scored a deliberate own goal despite the fact Thailand players were trying to defend the Indonesia goal!
Another case of football turned upside down!
Thailand ‘won’ the game 3 – 2 going on to meet Vietnam while Indonesia would meet Singapore in the other semi-final. However, neither Thailand nor Indonesia had any luck after this unsporting display, with both losing out in their respective semi-finals. Ironically, it was Singapore that went onto win the competition beating the hosts in the final 1 – 0.
Unlike the Barbados-Grenada match mentioned at the start, FIFA came down very heavily on both Thailand and Indonesia. Both national associations were fined $40,000 for "violating the spirit of the game", while own goal scorer Mursyid Effendi received a ban from domestic football for one year and lifetime international football ban.
You can watch the remarkable game here. The nonchalant defending, pathetic goalkeeping, mooted celebrations and deliberate own goal are a sight to behold.
What power incentives can have.