When is scoring a spectacular goal that makes highlight reels a bad thing? When you’re trying to claim that you can’t walk for long periods of time and can’t work as a result. That’s what happened with Callum Saunders, a semipro soccer player in England. Saunders was in a car accident in March 2017, and a month after claimed a debilitating foot injury that prevented him from working (as a self-employed plasterer) or playing soccer, saying he couldn’t walk or stand for long periods of time and trying to claim up to £55,000 (more than $75,000) for that.
But insurance investigators from law firm Clyde and Co., working for insurance company Aviva, found plenty of evidence of Saunders playing for Haywards Heath FC during the time he claimed injuries were stopping him from working and playing soccer. They submitted that to the local court handling his claim, and that’s now led to Saunders (who now plays for Horsham FC) withdrawing his claim and paying costs.
That evidence included Saunders’ own tweets, plus clips from the team YouTube channel, which included footage of him playing in late 2017. And, most spectacularly, the investigators found a clip of a goal he scored in 2019 that made it all the way to Sky Sports’ “Soccer AM,” a goal struck with the right foot he claimed had the debilitating injury:
The cleanest strike you'll see all day! He's absolutely caught the goalkeeper out there 👏 pic.twitter.com/dvqkPeCQiP
— Soccer AM (@SoccerAM) February 7, 2019
Here’s more on this from a piece published Sunday by Henry Tomlinson of The Argus (a Brighton newspaper):
Saunders’ social media accounts contained multiple posts and tweets about his appearances for Haywards Heath FC and on several occasions in late 2017, Hayward Heath FC’s own YouTube channel posted footage of Saunders playing.
In February 2019, Saunders’ goal against Three Bridges FC was shown on Sky TV’s Soccer AM show.
Shortly after the ‘wonder’ goal, Saunders signed a document claiming he was at a ‘permanent disadvantage on the open labour market’ claiming £17,300 for that alone.
…Confronted with the evidence, Saunders agreed his claim had been fundamentally dishonest under Section 57 of the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015 and agreed a court order to withdraw his insurance claim and pay £5,000 costs.
…Damian Rourke, the partner at Clyde & Co who led the investigation, said: “Callum Saunders may well have been feeling happy about his Soccer AM appearance but, in the end, it turned out to be a massive own goal.”
A massive own goal indeed.