Man Loses Wife in Football Bet

A man lost his wife to a friend after wagering her on the outcome of a Premier League soccer match.

At 6:15 BST, last Saturday, Amani Stanley of Tanzania was a happy man. Ilkay Gundogan had just scored Manchester City’s second goal to give them a two-goal lead in the Manchester derby. City were only 45 minutes away from winning the Premier League title – and Amani was on course to keep his wife.

We’ve all had a bet on football: we’ve all been so sure that our team would win that we’ve made a bet with a friend. But not quite as sure as Amani – and not with the stakes so high.

Amani bet his wife on the result of the game, signing an agreement with his friend Tony Shilla:

“I hereby promise to give away my wife for an entire week to my brother Tony Shilla if Manchester City doesn’t win the league title against Manchester United. I’m of sound mind and I’ve not been coerced into this agreement.”

And as the teams went off at half-time, what could possibly go wrong? City were two up, and they’d played United off the park. Former United player, Gary Neville, commentating on Sky Sports said he “couldn’t bear to commentate” on the second half.

Game of two halves

Never was the cliché more appropriate. United came out a different team in the second half. Inspired by Paul Pogba finally playing like a man worth £89m ($126.06m), United turned the game around. Two goals in two minutes from Pogba brought it back to 2-2. And then a United player was fouled near the left-hand touchline. Alexis Sanchez floated over the free-kick. The City defense turned to stone. And there was England defender Chris Smalling to volley the ball into the net. 3-2 to United with 20 minutes to go.

Plenty of time for City to be denied a clear penalty, but the United defense held firm. José Mourinho and Pep Guardiola shook hands; the red half of Manchester breathed a sigh of relief and City were made to wait for the title.

Nearly 7,000 miles away, in Tanzania, it appears that Amani Stanley and Tony Shilla also shook hands, with – as the Nairobi News reported – Amani being more than willing to honor the bet. Unfortunately, there are no reports – as yet – on what Mrs Stanley thought of her husband’s wager…

Van Persie costs gambler house

Neither is this the first time a wife has been bet on a football match. In 2013, two friends in Uganda made a bet on the Arsenal–Manchester United game. A house (Arsenal) against a Toyota and the wife of her Manchester United-supporting husband. In front of 75,000 people at Old Trafford, Robin van Persie popped up in the 27th minute to see Arsenal fan Henry Dhabasani lose his house, much to the dismay of his three wives and five children.

There is also a story from Russia of a poker player using his wife to cover what he obviously thought was a winning hand. It wasn’t, and his ex is now – in her own words – “happily married” to the winner of the game.

Tattoos are also a popular sporting bet, unless you are Manchester City fan Rodney Ward, who now proudly has a Manchester United crest tattooed on his chest, having drunkenly bet his friend Paul Madden that City would win the Premier League in the 2010–11 season. Manchester United won the league by nine points with City in third…

Inside knowledge

Maybe the way to win is to have inside knowledge – and who has better inside knowledge than your family and friends. Bournemouth midfielder Lewis Cook made his England debut in the recent friendly with Italy, winning his grandfather, Trevor Burlingham, £17,000 ($24,093) in the process, following a £500 ($708.62) bet Burlingham made four years ago.

… And the father of golfer Rory McIlroy famously won £50,000 ($70,861.5) when his son won the Open, thanks to a £500 ($708.62) bet made when Rory was only 15. The family and friends of F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton made a six-figure sum from betting on Lewis to win a Grand Prix before the age of 23 and to be world champion before he reached 25. Hamilton won the world championship aged 23 in 2008.

You suspect that with the number of proud parents and grandparents watching from the sidelines betting on children’s future sporting success is a profitable niche for the bookmakers – with the occasional high profile payout bringing some welcome publicity.

But there is no record yet of a bookmaker accepting a wife as the stake. Then again. I’ll be at the Grand National on Saturday, with my wife as it happens…