By Donald Waxman
SAO PAULO — Charged with match-fixing, two referees and the entire Italian pollen-ball team were arrested at halftime of an opening game in the Pollinator Cup on Tuesday. Italy was playing against the combined Russian A-Bee-C team at a sticky Pancho Villa Stadium in Rio de Janeiro when armed hornets made the arrests.
The Italian bees, led by star striker-stinger Maria Needle-Poke, were a clear favorite to win the game but lost by a score of 954 to 1. Under pollen-ball rules, a game must be played out even if one team is disqualified or is unable to play for other reasons. So with no Italian players on the field for the second half, Russia scored at will; and the result was the most lopsided victory in the history of pollen-ball.
Suspicion that the game was fixed arose when Needle-Poke, faced with an open Russian net early in the first half, stopped and sat down on the pollen-ball until the Russian goalkeeper could get back into position. Only then did Needle-Poke attempt to kick the ball, whiffing four times before an exasperated referee blew the whistle.
From her cell in a heavily guarded honeycomb, Needle-Poke insisted she was not involved in any scheme to let Russia win the game, and she became defensive when questioned about her frequent whiffing.
“The pollen-ball is actually a grain of pollen, you nincompoops,” she told a group of reporters. “It’s like trying to kick a quark. The thing is elusive.”
ZZZZ, pollen-ball’s governing body, says an investigation into alleged improprieties is ongoing, and has been ongoing since the origin of sport sometime between 28,000 and 22,000 BC. A final report is expected in 800 years.