Pressing Issues: Kill match-fixing scandal once and for all

2013-11-17 10:00

The bust-up between Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula and Fifa secretary-general Jérôme Valcke over the Bafana Bafana match-fixing scandal this week reminded me of my youth.

As a chubby (but very flexible) young man, I used to gallivant with my friends. Most of them, if not all, used to indulge quite heavily in the waters of immortality.

I made an observation that as they imbibed the Queen’s tears and became quite inebriated, the more intense their arguments became.

And the more they imbibed, the higher the decibels became.

But what caught my attention (as a sober observer, of course), was that while the debate was intense, the participants were actually trying to make the same point.

In fact, they were all in agreement.

What, you may ask, is the point of all this?

The spat between the Fifa secretary-general and Mbalula is a case in point.

Fifa, the South African government and the SA Football Association (Safa) are all in agreement that the scourge of match-fixing (“match-manipulation” in Valcke’s language), must be rooted out of football.

But it seems the difference is in perceptions of how this battle can be fought and won.

While there are many ways to skin a cat, so to speak, (and I hope I don’t get into trouble with the SPCA), there is agreement that a long-term solution must be found.

But the question remains as to who has the best plan to end this manipulative practice? For the record, Fifa alerted Safa in December last year to allegations of match-fixing in Bafana Bafana’s build-up to the 2010 Fifa World Cup.

Safa responded by suspending those whose names were mentioned in the report: then president Kirsten Nematandani, Dennis Mumble, Barney Kujane and Lindile “Ace” Kika.

Their suspensions were listed after a Safa national executive committee meeting attended by Mbalula.

After a meeting in Zurich, Fifa, Mbalula and Safa agreed that a commission of inquiry had to be instituted to get to the bottom of this.

When Mbalula returned, he briefed President Jacob Zuma. The last we heard, Number 1 was still “applying his mind” to the matter.

In August, Fifa wrote a letter to Safa stating that “given the time that has elapsed since your received this report [sic], and the seriousness of the allegations, the Fifa ethics committee must take appropriate steps to move this matter forward”.

This letter was forwarded to Mbalula’s office.

This week, Mbalula said there would be a pronouncement on the matter within a week.

The sooner this matter is dealt with, the better.

It is not fair to those implicated to walk with this cloud hanging above their heads.

It is also not fair for Safa to walk around with its image being tarnished by an unverified allegation.

Fifa, government and Safa must just settle this issue once and for all.

It doesn’t matter who does it or how it’s done but the scourge needs to disappear from our soccer leagues, soon.

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