Match-fixing scandal rocking SA football couldn’t have come at a worse time

2012-12-22 00:00

WRITING on his Facebook page, the suspended South African Football Association (Safa) CEO Dennis Mumble, who was about to take over as acting chief executive officer in January, said: “No matter how hard we try to fix this association, we just can’t get it right.”

Mumble is listed in the Federation of International Football Associations (Fifa) report on match-fixing as the one who asked the world football governing body to investigate the matter.

At the heart of the latest scandal that stinks to hell are four Bafana Bafana 2010 Soccer World Cup warm-up matches that have now been confirmed to have been fixed.

The Fifa report confirms long-held suspicions that the matches were fixed and it gives reasons.

The report says the matches were fixed for two reasons, to improve Bafana Bafana Fifa rankings ahead of the World Cup and to benefit an Asian-based betting syndicate.

The deal between Safa and a shoddy company called Football4U was signed in April 2010.

After receiving the report on Friday, the Safa emergency committee — which consists of president Kirsten Nematandani, his four deputies, Danny Jordaan, Irvin Khoza, Chief Mwelo Nonkonyana and Mandla Mazibuko, as well as CEO Dr Robin Petersen and national executive member (NEC) Alpha Mchunu — met last Sunday.

We are told Nematandani was asked to step down from his position until the completion of an investigation into the matter.

After refusing, he was asked to recuse himself as the matter was discussed, because his name appears on the report.

The committee then took a decision to suspend all those whose names are mentioned in the report — Nematandani, Mumble, Barney Kujane, Lindile Ace Kika and Adeel Carelse.

Other people mentioned in the report are no longer in Safa’s employ, such as Leslie Sedibe, who was the CEO at the time of the shenanigans, and Steve Goddard, who was in the referees department.

The timing of this scandal could not have broken at a worse time, as Bafana Bafana are preparing for the Africa Cup of Nations finals, which will be hosted in this country from January 19 to February 10.

And it’s not as if the preparations are going well. And now one of the people suspended is Bafana manager Kujane, who has now been replaced by his long-time understudy, Levy Ramajoe.

The scandal is likely to have a severe effect on the morale of the players. There is also talk that Fifa is pondering whether to suspend Safa’s membership until the mess is sorted out.

As suggested by Fifa in the report, Safa has involved the Hawks, which have revealed that about R8 million was involved in the fixing of the matches and that there might be arrests pretty soon around the matter, as a criminal case has been opened.

Another spin in the matter is that the report has added some fuel to the fight for positions come Safa’s own Mangaung, as their September 2013 elective conference has come to be known.

Among the members of the emergency committee are people who have been mentioned as nursing ambitions of ousting Nematandani in the next elections.

So those in the incumbent president’s corner cannot be blamed for swearing that the decision to suspend — or putting Nematandani on a “leave of absence”, as the committee puts it — has something to do with personal ambitions.

It is also not clear why Mumble, the whistleblower, is suspended.

But as mentioned above, the timing of this whole thing could not have been worse.

On the flip side, this could provide a much-needed opportunity for South African football to cleanse itself. The suggested Judicial Commission of Inquiry would be the right way to go, as well as a thorough forensic audit of Safa.

For an organisation that hosted what was called the most successful World Cup to date just two years ago, it is indeed a matter of going from hero to zero.

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