Millions of football fans jump on Fantasy Premier League every year to showcase their managing skills to their friends and the world in a bid to be crowned champion.
But this year’s top point scorer, who beat more than seven million people, was disqualified for alleged comments made towards a player during the season.
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Bulgarian Aleksandar Antonov finished 18 points clear of runner-up Joshua Bull, who is a 29-year-old University of Oxford cancer mathematician, but was not announced the official winner.
Later, the Fantasy Premier League Twitter account announced Bull would be awarded the worldwide leader trophy after Antonov’s “breach of our terms”.
Antonov went on his YouTube channel and said he did not cheat, but it appeared he was disqualified for comments made during the season.
He said comments he made in a private group chat had been sent to Fantasy Premier League and ‘taken out of context’.
“The reason for my disqualification is a moment of frustration with a player, put into words, written between friends,” he said.
“It was never meant to offend any footballer. It is not something I posted or said directly towards a footballer.”
“What we write with my friends in our chat is football banter, I’m sure it’s not that different from your football banter chats.”
He did not clarify what comments he made that got him disqualified.
He later tweeted from his account @TooGoodFPL: “Can I just say quickly...I am not racist. OK, that's all I had to say, bye.”
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The fantasy site released the winner following the disqualification.
“Following end-of-season checks, final standings have been updated within the game, leaving Southampton fan Joshua and his team 'The Bulldozers' top of the table,” the statement read.
“His score of 68 in Gameweek 38+, in which he played his Wildcard, was enough to hold off the challenge of Chris McGowan’s Aúpa Atleti and Will Turner’s Martial Mata’s LP.
— Fantasy Premier League (@OfficialFPL) August 11, 2020
“The team formerly occupying the No 1 position has been removed from FPL due to a breach of our terms.”
Bull said he was shocked to find out he had won.
“I was expecting to hear something from the Premier League at some point because I’d come second,” he wrote.
“But then the email that came through said the guy ahead of me has been disqualified for some reason and I’m going to be crowned champion.”
Bull has won a seven-night break in the UK and two VIP tickets to matches in next season's Premier League for finishing as the leader.