Govt to respond to match-fixing saga

By Drum Digital
19 April 2013

Government will announce its stance on the SA Football Association's (Safa) alleged match-fixing saga in two weeks, Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula said on Friday.

"We are busy processing this issue at government level and... we'll come back to Safa and Fifa. It won't be an underground matter," he said at The New Age breakfast briefing in Sandton, Johannesburg.

Mbalula said investigations would be conducted with integrity and transparency.

On Thursday, President Jacob Zuma's office said he had not yet decided whether or not to establish a commission of inquiry into the issue.

"The matter is still being looked into and such consideration will take into account the relevant legal framework and protocols governing football, domestic and international," spokesman Mac Maharaj said in a statement.

On Friday, Mbalula stressed that government would not tolerate any wrongdoing in sport.

"We won't [turn] a blind eye to instability, disorganisation, misrepresentation, and fraud," he said.

On Thursday, global football body Fifa wrote to Mbalula and Safa president Kirsten Nematandani saying it wanted to distance itself from investigations into anything other than match fixing.

This followed a meeting Fifa secretary-general Jerome Valcke held with Mbalula and Nematandani in Zurich, Switzerland, earlier this month.

"During our meeting, it was decided that an independent judicial commission of enquiry would be set up by the South African government, whose mandate would be limited to investigating the irregularities related to friendly matches prior to the 2010 Fifa World Cup," Valcke wrote.

Fifa's letter followed reports that the commission of inquiry would not only cover the alleged match fixing reports, but would also include South Africa's alleged inappropriate use and disbursement of the Fifa legacy trust funds and corruption.

Mbalula called for Fifa not to lose trust in South Africa.

"You must trust the people of South Africa... when we are done, we will come back to you," he said.

He also called on sport fans to keep faith in government and the sport ministry.

"Be reassured, we would never sell out the people of South Africa. Never ever," he said.

-by Sapa

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