Mark Gleeson

How corrupt is SA football?

2010-08-16 08:59
Sport24 columnist Mark Gleeson (File)
Mark Gleeson

Another commission of inquiry is about to be set up to investigate allegations of corruption in South African football.

It seems a pointless exercise to me because the last inquiry of a similar nature delivered little in the way of tangible clean up. It was a fudge job.

There is hardly any likelihood any of the ‘Mr Bigs’ are likely to be to outed. It is therefore nothing more than a public relations exercise, designed to give the impression that the domestic game is cleaning up its act when everyone knows there are a lot of shenanigans that go on behind the scene … from the top level down.

Rather than waste money on an aimless inquiry, likely to have the teeth of gummy bear, why not seek to achieve a cleaner game by putting into place measures that will ensure corruption is near impossible to achieve and has harsh ramifications for anyone stupid enough to believe they can get away with cheating.

How about the following game plan to properly clean up the game:

1. A corruption commissioner be appointed full time and charged with investigating any allegations made by any accredited officials or players

2. A panel be set up to regularly study the performances of referees and the contentious decision they make. Most games are televised these days and if there is a pattern of a match official who seems biased in his officiating, it can be readily picked up. It doesn’t have to be proven. If it can be reasonably adjudged that a referee seems inconsistent in the way he handles particular teams, he is removed from the panel of officials.

3. Anyone accused of corruption is guilty until proven innocent and is immediately suspended. The onus is on the player/official to prove he is clean.

4. If it is found that a false accusation led to an unfair suspension of an official, player or referee, his accuser gets a lengthy ban from the game.

5. A life ban is mandatory of anyone found guilty of corruption. He or she may never return to the game in any manner or form.

6. All corruption hearings be held in public.

7. The appointment of match officials for important matches be done by public draw.

8. No club official may contact any referee or linesman at any time, not even socially. If they are found to have done so, it be presumed they were acting in a corrupt manner and they be suspended immediately.
It is no secret that the lower leagues, notably the National First Division and Vodacom Leagues are rife with referees and linesmen taking money to affect results. It is rotten to the core. But there has been little willingness to tackle this issue, certainly not with the iron fist needed. Clubs, officials and referees are killing the game at this level and thereby eroding the foundation on which the Premier Soccer League is supposed to exist. But unless a major clean up is effected and cheating clubs kicked out, the passivity will lead to more cheating.

Leadership is a hard task. It is not only about VIP seats, free Mercedes Benzes and first class travel. It is about protecting the sanctity of the game. South Africa’s top football bosses have it in their own interests to make the game better in this country. If not, it will die and with it will go all their perks too.

Mark Gleeson is a respected television commentator and Editorial Director of Mzanzi Football.

Disclaimer: Sport24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on Sport24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Sport24.


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