It looks like some soccer teams will go to any lengths to win games, even amateurs. Take the case of Holy Mount Zion, which plays in the Jewish Maccabi Southern Football League in London, England.
The team was recently caught cheating by fielding players who weren’t Jewish because they it said it was too hard finding enough Jews to fill up the squad. However, opponents believe the club was trying to gain an advantage by bringing in a couple of ringers from other faiths.
The referee played detective in this instance as he saw the soccer players were registered as Simon Laub and Danny Potter, but their teammates kept calling them Javier and Mariusz. The ref became suspicious and the true identities of the players were revealed when officials found them on Facebook of all places.
The players turned out to be Javier Guevera and Mariusz Mielniczuk, and Holy Mount Zion was suspended from the league for the time being for using players with false names. Other teams in the league said Zion should be booted out of the league for cheating and being a ”disservice” when it comes to Jewish football.
David Woolf, who is chairman of the league, said that Zion attended a meeting after the incident and admitted to lying and using players who weren’t Jewish. Woolf said the league is worried that the team can’t be trusted and they’re causing an embarrassment to the Jewish community.
Rob Lerner, manager of Zion, told a local newspaper that he used the illegal players because his squad was short players. He said he didn’t really have a choice as it’s the only way he could field a team. He added that the players knew they were using false identities and weren’t really comfortable with the situation.
Nigel Burns, who was the referee in the game between Faithfold and Zion, said he heard players being called by non-Jewish names. He asked the players who they were after the game and one of them said Mariusz was just his nickname. The pair was also identified as Simon Laub and Danny Potter in a photo in the Jewish Chronicle newspaper a couple of days later.
But that was the end of the scam, as league officials saw the same photos of the players on their Facebook profiles. It turns out one of them was Mariusz Mielniczuk, a personal trainer from Poland, and the other was Javier Guevara, a banker from Colombia.
The league has now asked six other players to prove they have Jewish origins, including players from Italy and Colombia. The club is banned for the rest of the season and past results might be thrown out. The other clubs in the league said Zion has shown no respect at all to the Maccabi League and everybody involved in it.