Is this match-fixing scandal closure?

2013-04-07 10:00

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Safa executives over the moon with accord reached to investigate only pre-World Cup matches.

At last, there could be closure to the match-fixing scandal that has rocked South African football.

After winning the first round against Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula, the SA Football Association (Safa) will now go ahead with an independent judicial commission of inquiry into allegations of match-fixing involving Bafana Bafana’s pre-2010 World Cup friendly matches.

Yesterday, at its national executive committee (NEC) meeting, Safa officials looked to be in a celebratory mood after they endorsed and approved the accord reached between Safa, global soccer governing body Fifa and Mbalula in Zurich this week.

The NEC recommended that the commission should be limited only to match-fixing relating to Bafana’s warm-up World Cup matches.

The chairman of Safa’s legal committee, Poobie Govindasamy, yesterday said: “No past or present official should be part of the commission, and one of the committee members should be Michael Garcia.

“The commission should be established as soon as possible, and must finish within three months from the day of establishment,” said Govindasamy.

Garcia, who chairs Fifa’s ethics committee, was recommended to Safa president Kirsten Nematandani and Mbalula during a meeting with Fifa’s secretary-general Jerome Valcke in Zurich, on Friday.

Valcke had warned that: “This long-standing open case (match-fixing) is harming South African football.”

Fifa handed Safa the match-fixing report, which implicated five senior Safa officials.

Nematandani, Dennis Mumble, Lindile Kika, Adeel Carelse and Barney Kujane were initially suspended but later reinstated into their positions.

Before the trip to Zurich, Mbalula wanted a full-blown judicial commission into Safa’s affairs, which would have probed the match-fixing scandal, alleged abuse of the 2010 Legacy Trust Fund and other irregularities within Safa.

While it will have powers to subpoena witnesses to testify, the proposed commission – still to be set up by government – will only probe the match-fixing scandal.

It is not clear if its terms could be extended to other issues in the association.

However, a senior government official, who did not want to be named, said it was possible for the commission to go beyond its mandate and look at other matters, if the need arises.

“If we find that there was more to match-fixing we will easily go beyond our scope,” said the official.

But Nematandani insisted that only the match-fixing scandal will be probed.

“Other issues were unfounded and we cannot justify them.

“We are in this situation because of match-fixing, hence we are saying it should be limited to that,” insisted Nematandani.

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