An Italian Serie C match descended into farce on Sunday as Cuneo beat Pro Piacenza 20-0.
Pro Piacenza are bottom of the Italian third tier, and have seen most of their first-team squad walk out on strike in a dispute with the club over unpaid wages.
They had been unable to field a team for their previous four league fixtures, resulting in 3-0 walkover defeats, and league regulations stipulate that any side that fails to fulfill five fixtures in a season is liable to be expelled.
That meant Pro Piacenza were forced to field a starting team of just seven players, including the club’s massage therapist and six teenagers, and with 19-year-old Nicola Cirigliano listed as the team’s coach for the game.
Seven is the minimum number of players with which a team can begin a match under FIFA rules, and although the team were briefly bolstered to eight men by an additional player who had forgotten his documentation at kick-off, it failed to improve their miserable hand.
In absurd circumstances at Cuneo’s Stadio Fratelli Paschiero, the hosts began their scoring blitz after just three minutes and scarcely let up for the rest of the first half.
Edoardi Defendi helped himself to five goals inside the opening 22 minutes, but on a day of ludicrous statistics a place in history was reserved for striker Hicham Kanis, whose six goals gave him a new Italian league record that is likely to stand for generations.
Of Cuneo’s 20 goals, 16 came in the first half, as Pro Piacenza’s youngsters were humiliated in a bizarre spectacle that they were powerless to prevent.
The result means that Cuneo have more than doubled their league goalscoring for the season in a single afternoon. The team had managed just 18 goals in 24 games prior to Sunday’s game.
It marks a continuation of a worrying trend in the Italian third tier, with Matera thrown out of the league only last week for falling foul of league regulations.