No anti-corruption hotline set up for Afcon

2013-01-20 10:00

Whereas global football governing body Fifa always sets up a whistle-blower hotline before all their tournaments, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has not done so for the Afcon tournament.

Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke told journalists yesterday that given “the level of match manipulation” and corruption around the world, this was one of the organisation’s methods to try to curb the scourge.

“It is part of our protocol to set up this hotline,” he said. “We also hold workshops with referees, officials and players, where they are given guidance on how to report suspicious happenings around matches,” Valcke said.

He went on to say that Fifa encouraged its 206 members to have such a facility.

Valcke had the hacks in stitches when he said Fifa no longer called it match-fixing but “match manipulation”.

“It is manipulation because these people no longer just fix matches, but they bet on everything from when the first red card is going to be issued, a free kick, corner kick and every aspect of the game.”

He begged journalists to help Fifa “fight this global cancer that is eating at football at all levels”.

“You should not only write about corruption but also alert Fifa so that we can follow up,” he said, explaining that it was difficult for his organisation to see every bit of news in the global media.

City Press drew a blank this week when it attempted to get comment from the 2013 Afcon Local Organising Committee (LOC) head of security Mlungisi Ncame and CAF spokesperson Mahmoud Garga on whether there were special precautions taken to prevent match-fixing during the tournament.

Ncame said he needed to get clarity from LOC chief communications officer Sipho Sithole on whether he could comment on the matter but he did not came back to us, nor did he answer his phone when we tried to call him back.

Garga did not answer his cellphone and did not reply to voice messages and SMSes.

The tournament takes place a month after a damning report from Fifa showed that four Bafana Bafana 2010 World Cup warm-up matches were fixed.

The report shows that the SA Football Association (Safa) was infiltrated by members of a Singapore-based syndicate. The matches were against Thailand, Bulgaria, Colombia and Guatemala.

The syndicate ringleader, Wilson Raj Perumal, has served time in a Finnish jail for match-fixing and is now under house arrest in Budapest.

“Many cases are still coming up and I don’t see him coming out of jail soon,” said Valcke, who arrived in South Africa after a two-day conference in Rome.

South Africa is not the only African country whose image has been tainted by reports of match-fixing.

Nigeria is also mentioned in the report for their match against Korea on June 6 2010. Another match involving The Super Eagles against Argentina also raised eyebrows.

The biggest match-fixing scandal on the continent so far was in Zimbabwe, where 98 people, including players – some of whom play in South Africa – and officials, have been handed lifetime bans.

Valcke said Fifa’s legal department was still waiting for more documents from the Zimbabwe Football Association to determine whether the lifetime bans should be made global.

A fake Togolese national team also appeared against Bahrain and seven Zambian players were handed jail terms in Finland over match-fixing.

» The Fifa anticorruption hotline number is 0800 777 228

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