How To Stop A Riot? Announce You’ve Won The League, Even If You Haven’t!


This article was first published on May 18th 2015

The final round of games in the Iranian league this weekend saw one of the most bizarre and controversial finishes to a title race football has ever seen!

Tractor Sazi went into the final round of games in pole position, clear of second placed Naft Tehran, who they were playing on the final day of the season, on goal difference. Third placed Sepahan were one point below first and second going into the last game.

Leading 3-1 after an hour, a first title in 52 years seemed a sure thing for the Tractor boys. But the occasion must have gotten to Toni Oliveira’s men, and Tractor were pegged back to 3-3 with nine minutes remaining, as well as getting a red card! Former Bolton Wanderers midfielder Andranik Teymourian found himself on the scoresheet before getting himself sent off amid the excitement.

Then, for some inexplicable reason, Tractor went about playing for the point instead of going for the win. They were under the impression that Sepahan were drawing their game too, leaving them a point behind. Tractor officials complained that their television and radio feeds of their opponents’ game blacked out with three minutes remaining, and were told that Sepahan’s game finished 2-2, meaning Tractor were champions.

The announcement came over the tannoy at Tractor’s stadium that they were the league title winners, and the 90,000 fans in the ground went wild.

However, Sepahan won their game 2-0, rather than drawing 2-2, meaning Sepahan were champions. Apparently, Tractor officials gave the news of their league title clinching in attempt to stop fans in the ground from rioting, but when the real news broke that they had thrown it away, the riots truly began in earnest.

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The club soon found out that telling your fans you’ve won the league is not an effective way of preventing a riot. Large rubbish bins and stadium seats were soon in the air, as fans made their dissatisfaction clear.

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Footage of the outrageous league finish can be seen below, with Arabic commentary.

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