Soccer. Football. フットボール – call it what you will, it’s a magnificent sport enjoyed by millions around the world.

So magnificent that one of its greatest-ever stars, Pele, nicknamed it “o jogo bonito” – The Beautiful Game – a fitting title from a man so marketable he has starred in commercials for Mastercard, and Visa, and American Express, and boner pills.

But as glorious as it is to watch (provided you’re somewhere safe, where slipping into a coma won’t cause too many injuries), soccer (as we’re calling it, just because it’s going to annoy someone, somewhere) has a slight image problem. Probably because it’s loaded to the gills with people who can’t help but cheat.

From Diego Maradona’s heroically unsporting Hand of God goal that sent Argentina into the semi-finals of the 1986 World Cup, to 18 senior FIFA officials getting done for a string of serious crimes, soccer regularly has a whiff of corruption about it.

This week, however, a couple of soccer teams in Sierra Leone have taken the art of corruption in sport to levels far beyond The Great Russian Pee Caper of 2014, in a manner so profoundly and laughably obvious, it beggars belief.

Let’s set the scene: Second-tier teams Kahunla Rangers and Gulf FC of Kono were on equal pegging on the ladder for the season, both needing to win their final regular match to progress to the finals.

Should both teams win, the last spot in the finals would be decided on goal differences – the team with the largest number of goals against their opponents would go through.

At half time in their respective games, Kahunla Rangers were ahead 2-0 against Lumbebu United, but it was Gulf FC of Kono that seemed to have the finals berth all-but stitched up, leading 7-1 against Koquima Lebanon.

And then things got weird. Both winning teams piled on the goals, ending with scorelines that looked more like bowling figures that English cricketers would be proud of at the end of a slow third day at Lords.

Kahunla Rangers ended up winning 95-0, while Gulf FC of Kono piled on 84 unanswered goals to win 91-1 – each team scoring at an average of 30-second intervals, for 45 minutes.

Chaos ensued. The coach of one losing team Lumbebu said – absolutely straight-faced – he was “not aware of any match manipulation”. The other losing coach said he thought the match was just a friendly match, and the score wouldn’t matter.

In the end, it looks like both teams may as well have scored own goals the entire 90 minutes – because, somehow, officials noticed that something untoward may have occurred, and the teams look set to be booted from competition entirely.

 

TO MARKETS

Australian markets have had a wobbly old start to the day, leading off with a dip, before rallying then falling and then rallying again to  reach the lunch break around 0.3% down.

It’s a case of market de ja vue (again), with market anchors Energy (-4.28%), Materials (-3.80%) and Utilities (-1.75%) hitting notes so sour they may as well be singing through a mouthful of lemon wedges.

Those awful results have, however, been offset by strong showings from Consumers – Discretionary up 2.0% and Staples up 1.8% – as well as Healthcare and Telcos (both up 1.8%) and high-flying InfoTech (up 3.56%).

Xero (ASX:XRO) is leading the tech stock surge from the big end of town, leaping a substantial 6.1%, and the Big Four banks have added between 1-2%, after adding similar percentages to their mortgage rates.

Cardboard Pizza-Equivalent Food-esque expert Domino’s (ASX:DMP) has jumped ~7.0%, possibly on news that its circulation drill program has returned assays results of 94m grading 0.43% Super Supreme from a down-hole depth of 35m, including 26m at 0.82% Supreme from 94m with 1m at 1.95% Capsicum, and 115m at 0.04% Ham and 0.16% Pineapple from 35m. It certainly wasn’t on any new flavour range.

At the wrong end of the ASX money-fight was big miner South32 (ASX:S32), which dropped nearly -8.0% since the markets opened, the hardest hit large cap in this morning’s Materials sector blow-out.

Iluka Resources (ASX:ILU), Beach Energy (ASX:BPT) and Coronado Global Resources (ASX:CRN) also took some lumps this morning, dropping 5.5%, 6.8% and 7.0% respectively.

We’ll get to how the little guys have fared shortly. Meanwhile…

 

NOT THE ASX

US markets came back from a long weekend to produce a mixed bag, as recession and inflation concerns continued to give American investors post 4th of July barbecue heartburn.

There is a lot of economic data on the near horizon in the US, and this week alone we’ll see the FOMC minutes, GDP data on Thursday, and the US unemployment rate on Friday, their time.

Despite a steep drop across the board early in the session, the tech-heavy Nasdaq finished up 1.75%, the S&P ended flat at +0.1%, and the Dow rallied to a still-disheartening 0.4%.

Asian markets are trending worse this morning, with the Nikkei diving 1.27% while Hong Kong (-0.4%) and Shanghai (-0.5%) struggled in choppy trade.

Over to the commodities desk, where oil prices plunged by 10% overnight, before recovering like a punch-drunk heavyweight to stagger back towards US$104 a barrel.

Natural gas is floating around a 1.0% gain, gold and silver edged up 0.3% and 0.1% respectively, and copper has dipped again, dropping 0.1%.

 

ASX SMALL CAP WINNERS

Here are the best performing ASX small cap stocks for July 6 [intraday]:

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Champions of the Little Leagues today has been Sezzle (ASX:SZL), riding high on the tech-stock wave and stacking on a staggering 35% in the wake of a serious Big-Up from UBS for the entire BNPL sector earlier this week.

No surprise then that ZIP (ASX:ZIP) also enjoyed a healthy bump, up ~17% as well, and IOUpay (ASX:IOU) added to its recent gains by surging another 23%.

Elsewhere, road toll tech guys Eroad (ASX:ERD) also put its foot down this morning, motoring along the highways of finance to grab an additional 17.4% worth of street-cred after its corporate governance roadshow last week mapped out ways for the company to shift gears, change lanes to find further avenues of success.

 

ASX SMALL CAP LOSERS

Here are the worst performing ASX small cap stocks for July 6 [intraday]:

Swipe or scroll to reveal full table. Click headings to sort: