Probe to break SAFA's back?
Timothy Molobi - City Press
Johannesburg - The FIFA probe into match-fixing of Bafana Bafana matches building up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup could just turn out to be the straw that breaks the South African Football Association’s (SAFA) back.
That is if FIFA is to find that SAFA knew or were involved in the alleged fixing of Bafana’s matches before the World Cup at home.
What could also count against the South African football governing body, is their former chief executive Leslie Sedibe, who recently told the Metro FM Discovery Sports Centre that he was not directly involved with the association and staging of the matches. He said he delegated SAFA’s head of national teams Lindile “Ace” Kika to handle all of the matches.
Sedibe lambasted SAFA saying: “Here we are talking about an organisation that failed to interpreter rules (a reference to SAFA’s failure to understand the Africa Cup of Nations rules leading to Bafana Bafana’s failure to qualify for this year’s tourney).”
He said SAFA had become more of a political organisation where “cadres from the Football Transformation Forum (FTF) are deployed.”
The FTF was a structure formed by football bosses before the 2009 SAFA elections which helped usher the current leadership into office.
Sedibe and Kika are on the list of 14 that have been summoned by the FIFA investigators to shed light on the alleged match-fixing.
A high-powered FIFA delegation, led by head of security Chris Eaton, started hearings at SAFA House on Thursday and were set to conclude work on Saturday.
At the heart of the investigation are matches organised by SAFA in conjunction with Singaporian Wilson Raj Perumal who represented Sports Marketing company, Football4U.
Perumal has since been linked with a Malaysian match-fixing syndicate. He is currently in jail in Finland for fixing league matches in that country.
Under investigation are Bafana’s 4-0 triumph over Thailand and their 2-1 victory over Colombia on May 27 2010, with all the three goals coming from penalties, one of which was retaken.
The two matches were officiated by officials from Kenya - Samwel Langat, Elias Kuloba and Sagero David.
The other matches were against Guatamala, Bulgaria and Denmark.
The Guatemala match saw three penalties awarded by Niger referee Ibrahim Chaibou, who has attracted controversy in the past for suspicious betting patterns in a match he officiated between Nigeria and Argentina.
Chaibou is currently suspended by FIFA.
Football4U organised referees for the above matches.
City Press has learned that the list of people summoned included former Bafana Bafana World Cup-winning Brazilian coach, Carlos Alberto Parreira.
However, by Saturday there were mixed reports - which the publication could not verify. One saying Parreira had submitted a written report and the other version being that he had declined to give evidence at all.
Eaton was helped by Terry Steans, who is also from FIFA’s security division.
City Press has also learnt that the two investigators were also asking about the two national under-23 friendly matches against Egypt, which they suspected might have been targeted by the match fixers.
One of the respondents and is head of referees at SAFA, Adeel Carelse, turned up for the hearing kitted in full Navy uniform on Friday. He’s a former Navy officer.
Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane was one of those who gave their submissions, and so were team manager Barney Kujane and his predecessor Sipho Nkumane.
Former head of referees Steve Goddard, who appeared on Thursday, said he was impressed with the proceedings.
Kika was to testify on Saturday.
Others who have been invited to give their accounts of events included Dennis Mumble, chief financial officer Gronny Hluyo, match officials Victor Hlungwani, who was the fourth assistant in the match against Colombia and Zakhele Siwela, who was in the same capacity against Thailand at Mbombela Stadium. But Siwela could not attend as he was in Madagascar on a CAF assignment.
Matthew Dyer, who was a last minute replacement referee at the Denmark match, was also on the list of invited people.
One official who testified on Friday said he was asked about his impressions about the referees. He said the alleged mastermind from Singapore asked to speak to the referees alone after learning that Soccer City was filled to the rafters for the game against Colombia in 2010.