Safa: Zuma must decide

But will the probe be limited to the games leading up to the World Cup? Timothy Molobi reports.

The ball is now firmly in President Jacob Zuma’s court to stop the bickering and simmering tensions between the SA Football Association (Safa) and Minister of Sport and Recreation Fikile Mbalula over a proposed judicial commission of inquiry into match-fixing.

He is expected to pronounce on the commission in a week or two.

Presidential spokesperson Mac Maharaj said the matter was being looked into, taking into account the legal framework and protocol governing football.

The big question? Will it be a full judicial commission with unlimited powers to investigate all Safa affairs or only be limited to the four pre-2010 World Cup matches?

Safa will appear before Parliament’s sports portfolio committee this week, where they are expected to be grilled on a number of issues, including match-fixing.

This week, global football governing body Fifa once again warned of government interference in football matters.

A letter from Fifa secretary-general Jerome Valcke advised Safa and the minister to stick to the agreement reached between the three parties in Zurich earlier this month, where it was concluded an independent commission of inquiry must be established to investigate only pre-World Cup matches.

The letter said any other matter should be handled by Safa as it would constitute outside interference in the affairs of the association and would violate Fifa statutes.

If violated, this could result in South Africa’s suspension from Fifa.

But the firebrand Mbalula hit the roof after the letter was leaked to the media. “There are some mischievous people who leaked the letter for their own ends,” he said.

He said he had since spoken to Valcke, reassuring him they had not deviated from the agreement reached in Zurich a fortnight ago.

“We have received and consulted with Sascoc (the SA Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee), Safa and Fifa – we did not seek permission from Fifa – on the points we have raised and Fifa said there was a need for a strong inquiry into match-fixing in South Africa.”

Mbalula reassured South Africans the government would never sell out its people. “We have an obligation to work and support football, and we have no intention of running the federation. We have never done that.

“But we will never turn a blind eye to instability, fraud, disorganisation and misappropriation.”

Mbalula said they would be transparent in their dealings.

“When we announce, in the next coming weeks, we will go back to Safa and Fifa. It is not going to be an underground mission. The fact people can try to pre-empt with letters won’t help. They must have integrity. Fifa must trust the people of South Africa. We do everything in a transparent manner.”

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