Johannesburg - The three-year prison sentence for corruption imposed on former Bafana Bafana assistant coach Phil Setshedi was lauded by the SA Football Players' Union on Wednesday.
"The successful prosecution of Mr Setshedi is a demonstration that this beautiful game can no longer tolerate corruption in any form," acting union general secretary Thulaganyo Gaoshubelwe said in a statement.
Setshedi, 57, was convicted of corruptly paying a police official posing as the chief referee R2 000 to fix soccer matches in the Vodacom Tournament in June 2011.
Gaoshubelwe said corruption deprived many players of a legitimate opportunity to play soccer locally and internationally.
"Simply put, the development of football can't be hindered by things such as match-fixing."
Earlier in the day, the SA Football Association (SAFA) also welcomed the sentence.
"Once again, this sends out a strong warning to anyone who might intend to tarnish the good name of the sport through corrupt and any other unsporting behaviour," SAFA president Kirsten Nematandani said in a statement.
"In accordance with FIFA and SAFA's zero tolerance to corruption and match-fixing, we would like to warn other potential criminals that the long arm of the law would not spare you."
Sentencing Setshedi on Tuesday, the Bellville Specialised Commercial Crime Court imposed an additional five years' imprisonment, which was suspended.
Magistrate S Sonnenberg said there was "no such thing as a free first offence". She was responding to a suggestion by defence attorney Marcello Steven that Setshedi's full sentence be suspended because he was a first-time offender.
"Laymen call it match-fixing, but you are being sentenced for corruption, in terms of the Prevention of Corruption Act," Sonnenberg told Setshedi.
Setshedi was arrested on June 8, 2011 after SAFA reported him to the police, following representations to officials in an attempt to influence the outcome of one of the matches.
Sonnenberg said Setshedi travelled to Cape Town in June 2011 to bribe the referee, to ensure the Mpumalanga Sevutsa Stars won two matches.
She said match-fixing had become an international epidemic, and that the national and international soccer community expected the courts to exact revenge on their behalf. Judicial officials had been trained not to be pressured into imposing inappropriate sentences.
"This conviction comes out of SAFA's close working relationship with the Hawks on corruption in football," SAFA said in the statement.