Pressing Issues: Fifa delegation smacks of Shakespearean farce

2014-04-16 10:00

The cynic in me says the much-talked-about Bafana Bafana match-fixing scandal will fizzle out and become a damp squib.

Last week’s revelations about the visiting Fifa delegation that tried speaking to a few individuals on the matter did not give me much hope.

Also, the fact that some of the individuals mentioned in the damning report issued by Fifa have since left the employ of the SA Football Association (Safa), is sure to put a spanner in the works.

These individuals no longer fall under the jurisdiction of Fifa so I honestly see nothing that will compel them to avail themselves to be grilled by the world football governing body’s investigators.

Even among the remaining people – Dennis Mumble, Lindile “Ace” Kika and Barney Kujane – in Safa, we are told the latter is about to go on pension.

It is indeed a serious matter of failing to strike the iron while it is still hot.

Already, one of the people mentioned in the report, Adeel Carelse, told City Press in no uncertain terms he wants nothing to do with football.

This is likely to be the attitude of other individuals whose names came up in the report, maybe with the exception of former president Kirsten Nematandani, who told us he would take the opportunity to give evidence as he feels an urge to clear his name.

It is also important to note that people mentioned in that report were not found to be guilty of any wrongdoing. It was from this premise that Mumble and those who supported him cried foul when Safa suspended him with the others.

Their argument – which seemed valid – was that Mumble only featured in the report as a whistle-blower.

But the powers that be at Safa then took a sweeping decision that in isiZulu would be called “zifa ngamvunye” and suspended the whole lot.

The timing of the report’s release also played into a volatile situation as elections were coming up in less than a year when it was released.

Needless to say, some individuals saw this report as an opportunity to purge their perceived “enemies” from football.

Initially, Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula and Fifa secretary-general Jérôme Valcke became like the identical twins in Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors as they sang from the same hymn book, agreeing that a judicial commission of inquiry must be formed to get to the bottom of this mess.

All those who are for the cleansing of South African football concurred, seeing this as an opportunity that would at once get to the root of corruption, if there was any.

And then the long wait for President Jacob Zuma to make up his mind on the formation of the commission followed.

In the meantime, a spat between Valcke and Mbalula ensued after Valcke said Fifa was taking matters into its own hands following the South African government’s dilly-dallying.

This sent Mbalula hopping mad and he reminded everyone who would listen that Mzansi was not a banana republic and Valcke could not tell us what to do.

Well, eventually President Zuma’s office announced his decision to let Fifa deal with the matter.

So almost two years down the line since the report emerged, we are still nowhere closer to having the matter closed.

And the latest developments seem to lend themselves to another of Shakespeare’s comedies, penned circa 1598, called Much Ado About Nothing.

Should my cynical inclinations turn out to be true, it will be sad as this will rob South African football of a chance to cleanse itself and clear the cloud hanging over its head.

It is quite a serious matter when it emerges that matches involving a country’s national team might have been tempered with.

Even sponsors might take a stance based on these allegations. So I hope Fifa’s ethics committee chair, Michael Garcia as well as his investigators, get to the bottom of this whole mess.

But I don’t see this coming to a satisfactory closure. Perhaps that’s just the cynic in me.

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