Johannesburg - The SA Football Association (Safa) has vowed to crack down on corrupt match officials in the ABC Motsepe League.
The second tier of South African football has been besieged by allegations of corrupt activities involving match and club officials. Safa has acknowledged that, previously, there were issues with the league.
The overall winner of the league is guaranteed not only a place in the National First Division (NFD), but also a R1 million payout.
At the end of the season, all provincial champions battle it out in national play-offs to determine the top two teams that get promoted to the NFD.
As a result, allegations of match-fixing and bribery have been levelled against some officials in all nine provinces as they all want to get to the top.
Safa CEO Dennis Mumble said they were aware of these allegations and were taking them seriously.
Mumble hinted that Safa would involve law-enforcement agencies in an effort to curb corruption.
He also urged people to come forward with any information they have on these nefarious activities.
“We are serious about fighting crime in our football and getting rid of corrupt people. Without going into much detail, we have already put measures in place to arrest those involved. Our net is closing in on them,” said Mumble.
He said referees would have to sign integrity declarations, where they commit to uphold the values of ethical conduct.
“They must understand that failure to report any match-fixing, or attempts to fix matches, will result in sanctions.”
Mumble denied allegations that not enough was being done to root out corrupt activities.
“The only problem is that we don’t make noise about it. We now need to put everything out there and shame those who are involved.”
He said some provinces were not following the set fixtures, posing problems for the football association.
“We had issues in North West and Limpopo, where fixtures were not followed to the letter. This was a cause for concern for us. We have since instructed provincial coordinators to stick to the fixtures as they are aligned to the head office.”
Mumble said they had also realised that, in some instances, former match commissioners had joined clubs and current match officials were not aware of this.
“This creates a problem because they have a relationship. What we have decided to do now is take those who have joined clubs out of the system and make our officials aware of this.”
As of last week, Safa has been conducting fitness tests in various provinces to determine the level of officials’ fitness.
Safa will also appoint top officials to some of the games where the stakes are high, Mumble said.