Mark Gleeson

No place for corruption

2011-06-13 08:02
Sport24 columnist Mark Gleeson (File)
Mark Gleeson
The match fixing arrest last week is both a triumph and tragedy for South African football.

A triumph in the sense that it represents a rare act of honesty and commitment to the good of the game and a tragedy for the man at the centre of the allegations, former Bafana Bafana manager Phil 'Jones' Setshedi.

He was charged and bailed last week on allegation of trying to buy a game in the Vodacom League playoff, traveling to Cape Town to make contact with the referee and offer him a bribe to ensure a positive result for the club he was acting on behalf of.

Setshedi’s connection with the club he is accused of acting for should become clearer when the trial is held in September.

But it does give credence to the endless claims of corruption in the lower leagues. There is virtually not a week that goes by without some official, coach or player claiming some skullduggery in the National First Division or the Vodacom League and it is often joked that the team with the biggest budget is the one that secures promotion.

The ability of buy a result is apparently still alive although what happened last week is a triumph for honesty and courage and the referee concerned (he has not been named) should be lauded for his ethics and service to the game.

September’s trial might be a greater examination of exactly what goes on in the lower leagues and could present a good chance to begin a proper clean up.

It all starts with corrupt club officials who try to buy results but there are seemingly many others involved too.

Clubs and officials involved must be give lifetime bans and banished from the game forever. They have no place in the sporting arena.

This is not the first opportunity to try and sort out the alleged malaise but Operation Dribble, in the end, proved a lot of noise and little substance when it was launched years ago to clean up the sport. Several corrupt referees were caught and their involvement in the game ended but others are still officiating today.

But the criminal prosecution of a wide variety of personalities ground to a halt without the co-operation of the South African Football Association and top officials.

Maybe through the brave actions of this referee, SAFA will now see fit to be more pro-active in investigating allegations of corruption Setshedi’s involvement casts a shadow over his long time as general manager at Orlando Pirates and question whether this sort of corruption has been part of his modus operandi for decades.

He was always an affable man, a fine defender in his playing days and an important member of the 1996 African Nations Cup winning squad, where he served as team manager. How that legacy is now shattered.

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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