SAFA suffers costly court blows

Dominic Chimhavi (Gallo Images)
Dominic Chimhavi (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Old skeletons emerged in two court actions this past week to rattle costly and disturbing verdicts for a beleaguered South African Football Association (SAFA).

More specifically, Fli-Afrika Travel was awarded on appeal in the Johannesburg High Court an amount of approximately R14 million from SAFA in connection with an unfulfilled agreement relating to the 2010 Socer World Cup in South Africa - with costs set to swell the amount to close to R20 million.

And, almost simultaneously in another court ruling, suspended former SAFA CEO and Johannesburg attorney Leslie Sedibe succeeded in an action that was directed against both SAFA and world soccer controlling body FIFA for the release of documents that were relevant in his bid to reverse the banning that had undertones to Bafana Bafana games which were allegedly "fixed" by referees prior to the self-same 2010 World Cup - and clear his "damaged reputation" in the process.

The judgement, with costs that could amount to a further R10 million, directed SAFA and FIFA, who imposed the suspension on Sedibe, to release the related documents within 30 days or face the termination of the world body’s control of soccer matters in South Africa.

Sedibe, who has fought an incessant battle against SAFA and FIFA for years, has also made claims of pursuing  massive damages.

SAFA public relations head Dominic Chimhavi on Wednesday confirmed the outcome of the case involving Fli-Afrika, but he declared that the matter had been reversed on appeal - "and we certainly intend taking the matter further to a higher court by appealing against the appeal decision."

Fli-Afrika managing director Nazeer Camaroodien, however, while agreeing that SAFA could take the matter to the Supreme Court, said he believed it would "serve little purpose - with SAFA entering an agreement with us regarding World Cup tickets and accommodation and then bowing out of the arrangement after it had already cost us millions"

Chimhavi said the judgement regarding Sedibe's action was vague at best and had been taken with SAFA not represented.

"What is more," added the SAFA public relations head, "FIFA has a declared policy that its affiliates should not take matters to legal channels in seeking a settlement."

Numerous efforts to obtain comment from Sedibe on this assertion proved fruitless, but in the past he has claimed that he had exhausted all possibilities of receiving a fair deal through soccer's ambit - and he had been left with no option but to go to the courts.

And no matter how the two matters that have flared up in the last seven days evolve, disturbing, undertones regarding the otherwise highly successful 2010 World Cup on the field of play, continue to haunt SAFA regarding matters off it.

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