Fifa distances itself from Safa probe

2013-04-18 16:43

Global football body Fifa has distanced itself from an inquiry into the finances and internal affairs of the SA Football Association (Safa).

This emerged today from a letter to Safa president Kirsten Nematandani and Sport Minister Fikile Mbalula from Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke.

Valcke said he had not agreed for the South African government to set up an inquiry into anything other than match-fixing.

“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.

“Additionally, Fifa proposed that one of the members of the commission be Michael J Garcia, the chairman of the investigatory chamber of the Fifa ethics committee.”

Valcke met Mbalula and Nematandani in Zurich, Switzerland, earlier this month.

He said any issues aside from the global body’s report into alleged corruption ahead of the World Cup should be dealt with by Safa, and not government.

“Otherwise this would constitute interference in the internal affairs of Safa by a third party and would clearly violate the principles contained in articles 13 and 17 of the Fifa statutes.”

In a joint statement yesterday, the sport ministry and the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (Sascoc) said Safa had been on a downward spiral since the 2010 global showpiece.

“Safa has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons,” they said.

“Football-loving South Africans have been exposed to diatribes and serious allegations.”

A long list of allegations – including match-fixing, inappropriate use and disbursement of the Fifa legacy trust funds and corruption – were highlighted in an anonymous document dropped off at Sascoc’s office in Joburg.

A KPMG report into Safa’s finances also revealed the football body was R92 million in the red and on the brink of bankruptcy.

Mbalula and Sascoc said they could not ignore the multitude of allegations against the national football federation.

“Going forward, the matter is in the hands of the South African government and we will consider it, taking into account the merits and demerits of each proposal [made] to us,” the ministry and Sascoc said.

Mbalula was unable to appoint commissions, and only President Jacob Zuma could do so in terms of the Commissions Act.

It was also Zuma’s prerogative to construct the terms of reference, define the scope, and set time-frames for the inquiry.

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