It would appear that corruption is with us and will probably stay with us as long as there are people prepared to sell their honesty for a quick buck. That being said, it’s also correct to say that the ones with the bucks are equally as guilty – if not more so – since they are prepared to go to whatever lengths to achieve their goal (excuse the pun).
Corrupt practices are not confined to football. It goes right across the board, from politicians, administrators and business leaders to the very security forces we depend on to keep us safe – anyone in a position of power or authority.
All the football talk today in South Africa is about Senegalese referee Maguette Ndiaye, who awarded Ghana a “dubious” penalty, resulting in Bafana Bafana losing their recent World Cup qualifier 1-0.
Many agree that his decision was suspicious, to say the least. I cannot say for sure because I did not see the game. The only clip I saw was on social media and it was considerably blurry where the referee was, just a few metres from the incident.
I have received some highly uncomplimentary messages and comments from football followers in South Africa and even accusations of being unpatriotic towards my adopted homeland (I have dual Irish and South African nationality).
It’s very important that the relevant authorities, in this case CAF and Fifa, are allowed to carry out a thorough investigation into the matter. Remember, there is a lot at stake. Their decision will be the difference between either Ghana or Bafana Bafana going to the third round of qualifiers for the World Cup in Qatar next year – and give them access to the financial rewards that the event will bring.
There is also the reputation of the man in the middle and his future as a member of the Fifa international list of match officials. Should he be found guilty of the alleged match manipulation, Ndiaye’s career would be over. He would be disgraced not only in his own country, but across the globe. That would be a big price to pay.
So, let’s all take a step back and await the outcome of the enquiry promised by the powers that be in Cairo (Egypt, CAF) and Zürich (Switzerland, Fifa). Let them get on with their work and try to establish what – if any – wrongdoing took place.
I know there is precedent for referee manipulation. One only has to look back to 2016, when a game between Bafana Bafana and Senegal, which was refereed by Joseph Lamptey from Ghana, had to be replayed almost a year later because it was found that the referee on the day had been bribed.
As humans, sometimes we are accused of having a knee-jerk reaction to a situation, only to be proven wrong in the final analysis. The truth of this matter must come out; it’s the only way to bring credibility back to refereeing.
Having said all that, one can only receive if one is offered, so the real perpetrators are the men with the money. Yes, refs are wrong to accept it, but the offerers are more guilty for offering in the first place.
I have a simple philosophy that I live by: If you sell your honesty, you sell your soul. If you sell your soul, you have nothing left.
Please stay safe and well out there. This pandemic is not over yet. Protect yourselves and your families, and observe all medical and scientific advice. No one is safe until everyone is safe.
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