The winners of the pro-bending tournament had their bending taken away by Amon and the Equalists.
The referees were allowing the Wolfbats to cheat.
Mako: “These refs have been paid off. Someone wants us to lose.”
Who would have enough money to pay off the refs? Who would want the Fire Ferrets to lose?
Theory: Asami is an Equalist, but genuinely cares for Mako. She paid the refs off to make the Fire Ferrets lose so that Mako would be spared.