Fifa ref axed in Safa sex saga

2011-11-05 20:19

Somi says misconduct charges are part of campaign to silence him

A top Premier Soccer League (PSL) referee has been banned for life following allegations of an act of sexual misconduct with a former South African Football Association (Safa) employee last year.

Fifa assistant referee Luyanda Somi was last week dismissed by Safa after he was found guilty of “serious misconduct”.

According to a document in City Press’ possession, Somi was charged with three counts of misconduct after he allegedly sexually assaulted a female colleague twice (in August and September) last year in Polokwane.

The colleague, whose name is known to City Press, did not lay a charge with the police at the time and is alleged only to have inform-ed Safa this year.

Somi was also found guilty of violating the code of ethics of referees and the association.

“The respondent is hereby expelled from Safa activities for life. He should not participate in any football activities under the auspices of Safa. He should be removed from the Safa panel of referees with immediate effect,” reads a memo signed by Mandla Tshabalala, who chaired Somi’s disciplinary hearing in September.

Somi was withdrawn from the panel of match officials lined up to officiate in a PSL match between Jomo Cosmos and Orlando Pirates last week.

He last officiated in the Telkom Knockout Cup match between Cosmos and Bloemfontein Celtic on Wednesday.

This week, Somi came out with guns blazing, telling City Press that he believed the charges were part of a campaign to silence him after he spoke out against head of referees Adeel Carelse at the Semenya Commission last year.

At the commission, Somi described the operations of the Safa referees’ committee as chaotic, saying it needed to be revamped by employing competent people to run it.

“People in that committee are not doing a good job and it is worse with International Affairs. Our referees have not received the new kit from Fifa,” Somi told the commission.

Somi, who has appealed against the decision, said he decided to speak out as he felt victimised.

“When you are honest and tell the truth in football, you become a target and this is what has happened to me,” he said.

“I want justice to prevail because my image has been tarnished. I am sure Adeel (Carelse) is behind all this because of what I said at the commission. That is the only thing he is fighting me for,” he said.

He alleged that Carelse and the alleged victim wanted to extort money from him by suggesting he could only continue as a referee if he donated his earnings to a charity of her choice. He was also going to lose his Fifa badge and thus be demoted to lower divisions.

“They approached me and said if I agreed to do that, she would drop the charges, but I refused as I did nothing wrong. It was consensual,” he said.

“We even bought morning-after pills after the first encounter and used condoms the second time. So how could she turn around after a year and say I raped her?”

He said he wanted his day in court and not to be tried by people with their own agendas.

“The truth must come out. This woman has been used to settle other people’s scores. Why didn’t she open a case? Rape is a criminal offence. What jurisdiction does Safa have over a rape case?” asked a fuming Somi.

Efforts to get comment from the alleged victim were unsuccessful.

Safa Cape Town president Norman Arendse – the region to which Somi belongs – said he was aware of the case but the region had not been informed officially.

“It would be difficult for me to comment on the merits of the case,” said Arendse.

Safa chief executive Robin Petersen said everything was done above board and denied Somi was charged with rape.

“We can’t charge a person for something like that. He was charged with misconduct and everything was done within the bounds of our process.”

Petersen refused to comment on the allegations against Carelse.

“I am not going to comment about the HOD as the matter is sub judice,” he said.

Carelse refused to comment, saying the matter was still under review.

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