#3. Faking a Rugby Injury (With Fake Blood)
In 2009, the English professional rugby team the Harlequins were facing off in a tournament game against an Irish team called Leinster that was expected to make it to the finals. That, of course, would mean that the Harlequins would not make the finals. Knowing that the time when tons of practice and hard work could be a viable solution to this dilemma had long since passed, something more drastic was going to need to be done. And as everyone knows, when your natural talent and athletic ability have failed you, the next best thing you can do is bring a bunch of blood capsules onto the field and use them to fake injuries.
"Oohhh, my leg. Mouth! I meant my mouth."
Fine, maybe that last sentence requires some explanation. See, rugby teams are allowed a minimal number of substitutions per game. When you can't substitute freely, players tend to get worn down and therefore less able to perform. But those limits on substitutions don't apply to injured players. The Harlequins' plan was to use the blood capsules to simulate injuries, thus allowing them to keep a steady supply of well rested players on the field.
"He must have ruptured your lungs. We need to get you to a hospital -- right after this game."
The plan worked at first, but shockingly, the sight of several players literally spouting blood one minute and then returning to action without even a scratch on them the next made officials suspicious. In an absurdly bold commitment to seeing a stupid plan through, the Harlequins tried to prove that the injuries were real by having the team doctor cut open one of the player's lips. But injuring their own players was not enough, and it was soon uncovered that the Harlequins were using the fake blood packets not only in the semifinal game, but in several earlier games as well.
The team director, the team doctor and several Harlequins players were hit with a litany of bans and fines. They just narrowly avoided having the entire team being banned from playing in Europe.
"Sir, I'll have you know that all of our players are direct descendants of Wolverine."
Note: This infamous game is now referred to by the metal-as-hell nickname of "Bloodgate."
#2. Getting on a Pro Team With a Prank Phone Call
In 1996, the English soccer team Southampton was shocked to get a call from soccer great George Weah telling them that his cousin in Senegal was tearing it up for another pro team and now wanted in at Southampton. Well, no need to double check! Southampton immediately signed the player to the squad. The player's name was Ali Dia.
He turned out to be an incredible player, and that's the end of that story.
Shortly after he was signed, at the 32-minute mark of a game against Leeds United, it was finally Dia's time to shine. What happened for the next 53 minutes turned out to be one of the absolute worst performances by a soccer player at the top level ever. Instead of keeping up with the team, Dia ran around the field, going after the soccer ball like a possessed 5-year-old at the playground. Simple passes and kicks on goal were missed, as if doing so enough times would somehow lead to points being awarded just for trying so hard. Mercifully, he was soon taken out, with fans, players and coaches alike thinking the exact same thing: "What the hell just happened?"
"Drugs! I was on all the drugs. And now I retire!"
When Dia was confronted about this, he broke down and admitted that his contract was secured using what amounted to a prank phone call. Dia was in fact a soccer player, but not a very good one, and basically bounced around some of the lowest level soccer leagues in Europe. He was kicked out of all them for being awful. Deciding that a lack of ability shouldn't hold him back from achieving his dreams of playing professional soccer, Dia had one of his classmates call up the local big-league team while pretending to be Weah. And somehow, that dumb shit worked.
"Ha! That's too funn- wait, he said I recommended him to who?"
Try as hard as you'd like to deny it, but if you managed to talk a major league team into letting you play for money, you'd probably give it a shot, too. On a hilarious side note, Ali Dia is now famous in England, and his jersey is the top seller for Southampton to this day. All for cheating his way onto a major league team.
#1. The Fake Horse in the Fake Race at the Fake Track
The London of 1898 was a hotbed of illegal gambling. Because the money in betting on what prostitute would be disemboweled by Jack the Ripper next had dried up 10 years earlier, horse racing was the main gambling attraction at the time. The annual August bank holiday was an extremely popular day for races, and the major papers scrambled to print the results of as many races as possible from all over England.
"Four hours of looking, and I still can't find -- oh, here we are. 'Race canceled.' Motherfucker."
So when the editors of The Sportsman received an exclusive request to cover an upcoming event in Trodmore, they were happy to oblige, especially since it gave them an edge against their major competitor, The Sporting Life. However, due to the remote location of the race, the paper would not be able to send anyone to cover it. But that was OK: The clerk of the racecourse, "Mr. Martin," promised to wire them the results of the Trodmore races in time to make the morning papers the next day.
The Sportsman dutifully announced the event, and bets started flowing in to the underground bookies scattered across London. In particular, there was a lot of action on a 5-1 shot awesomely named Reaper who was running in the fourth of the six races being held at Trodmore that day. That evening, the newspaper received the results, revealing that Reaper had won his race. When The Sportsman appeared the next day, the bettors began collecting their winnings. Some bookies complained, arguing that since the results had only appeared in one of the two major sports journals, the odds could have been printed incorrectly.
"And gambling is immoral and illegal. I couldn't possibly give you the money in good conscience."
The truth was quite a bit stupider than that. It wasn't long before people noticed something fishy about the Trodmore races. Not only was Reaper not a real horse, but also the race itself never occurred and, in fact, Trodmore wasn't even a real goddamned place. By the time the journals printed retractions, "Mr. Martin" and his unknown associates had vanished into thin air with their winnings.
By the way, the fraud was only discovered because of a printer's error (another paper printed the wrong odds, which is what prompted someone to look into it), which raises an obvious question: How many times had they pulled this off before without anyone noticing?
Probably enough to need some help moving.
Scamming an entire town out of horse race bet winnings -- it's just one more thing the Internet has made impossible for the rest of us.
Be sure to check out the originals in The 7 Ballsiest Sports Cheats Ever. Or discover the 7 Great Sports Moments (That Might Have Been Fixed).