English Soccer Player Finds Trouble for Eating on Sideline

When we talk about gambling regulations, we talk about their benefits, that they offer customer protections and do things like nip any sort of cheating in the bud before it starts. Regulations are never 100 percent foolproof; things do happen sometimes. But even then, punishments are meted out and we all go on with our lives. And then there are the absolutely stupid scandals, like the sports betting silliness that took place this week surrounding an English soccer match (I’m not calling it football – ‘MURICA!) in which a backup player got in trouble for eating on the sidelines.

Players don’t typically chow down when they aren’t in the game and when they do, they get unnecessary flack for it, like when former New York Jets (FOOTBALL) quarterback Mark Sanchez at a hot dog on the sideline. The man was hungry, let him have a snack.

The case of Sutton United’s Wayne Shaw was a bit different.

Sutton United is a fifth-division team in England, which makes it fairly minor in the grand scheme of English soccer. There are eleven divisions, the highest being the Premier League in Tier 1. Sutton United plays to barely any fans and doesn’t move the needle in the slightest.

The reason anyone paid attention to Sutton United this week was that it was playing the FA Cup, a kind of awesome soccer tournament in which teams from divisions one through ten get jumbled up and play against each other. Sutton United was paired against the mighty Arsenal (even I’ve heard of Arsenal and I don’t know anything about soccer) on Monday and, as expected, lost by a score of 2-0.

Wayne Shaw is a 46-year old, hefty – somewhere around 300 pounds – backup goalie for Sutton United and by all appearances is quite the affable chap. His primary roles with the team appeared to be goalkeeper coach and stadium caretaker – there is a picture of him vacuuming Arsenal’s dugout before the game – but since he is employed by the team, they made him the backup goalie, as well.

Wayne Shaw Eating Pie on the Sideline
Screen capture courtesy BBC

With about 10 minutes left in the match and the game’s result not in doubt, television cameras caught Shaw on the sideline, eating a meat and potato pie. That’s a little weird, but it also seems like it wasn’t out of Shaw’s character; he’s a guy who looks like he loves his job and his life and is just having fun out there. Hell, he went to the stadium bar at halftime!

But other than some lame criticism that a dumb person might level at Shaw for eating during the game, there was one other problem with his action: online sportsbook Sun Bets had actually offered 8/1 odds that Shaw would be caught on television eat a pie during the soccer match.

That is completely true. There are prop bets and then there is betting on someone being videoed eating a pie during a match.

After the match, Shaw admitted that he knew about the wager and basically decided to have a little goof.

“A few of the lads [his friends] said to me earlier on: ‘What is going on with the 8-1 about eating a pie?’” he told reporters afterward. “I said, ‘I don’t know, I’ve eaten nothing all day, so I might give it a go later on.’ Sun Bets had us at 8-1 to eat a pie. I thought I would give them a bit of banter and let’s do it. All the subs were on and we were 2-0 down.”

“I went and got it at half time from the kitchen, I had it all prepared and ready to go. It was meat and potato,” he added.

He said that he thinks a few of his friends and fans had made the bet. Shaw didn’t think too much of it, saying, “It was just a bit of banter for them. It is something to make the occasion as well and you can look back and say it was part of it and we got our ticket money back.”

As silly, fun, and innocent as the incident was, it also seems like it should be some sort of violation of league gambling rules or English gambling law. I mean, a player in a game knew about a bizarre prop bet and purposely did something out of the ordinary to help people win it.

Sure enough, according to The Guardian, “The FA’s rules on betting state: ‘A participant shall not bet, either directly or indirectly, or instruct, permit, cause or enable any person to bet on (i) the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of, or occurrence in, a football match or competition.’”

Now, we don’t know if Shaw explicitly told his friends to make the pie bet, but it sounds like he at the very least nudged them in the right direction.

Sutton chairman Bruce Elliott was none-too-pleased about Shaw’s actions, saying (again, from The Guardian):

If you knew the roly poly goalkeeper you probably wouldn’t be very surprised. But Wayne is a top man. I didn’t know anything about it. He has got himself in the papers again and the fame obviously has gone to his head a little bit, but we will soon bring him back down to earth, don’t worry about that.

And yes, Shaw was brought back down to earth. Shaw offered his resignation to Elliott, who accepted it. And so comes a sad end to what could have been a fun story.


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