Cape Town - The South African Football Association (SAFA) must be commended for a brave decision to abide by the FIFA ruling to have the 2018 Soccer World Cup qualifier against Senegal replayed.
The suits in Zurich decided to order a replay after finding that the man they assigned to handle the match, one humpty dumpty called Joseph Lamptey, had "manipulated" the result of the match played in Polokwane last November.
It has since emerged that Lamptey - who has been given a life ban - is quite a colourful character who has been handing out numerous dubious decisions over time. How FIFA persisted in giving him matches, let alone retaining his international accreditation, is a mystery.
In the same breath, FIFA was quick to insist that neither South Africa nor Senegal had been involved in any wrong doing.
It was collusion between the referee and some betting syndicate, they said, without giving more details.
After the decision was made public last week, SAFA hit the ceiling and jumped up and down like a cat on a hot tin roof. They swore that they would appeal the decision.
However, a more sober SAFA, after a cooling of heads and probably wide consultation that included a gathering of the Emergency Committee on Monday, announced at a press conference on Tuesday that they had "on moral and ethical grounds" resolved to comply with the FIFA directive to have the match replayed.
President Danny Jordaan explained that SAFA did not want to benefit from "corrupt" actions. He explained that his organisation had adopted a "zero tolerance" attitude towards corruption.
Quite noble, one would say.
However, many South Africans took umbrage to SAFA’s decision as the feeling was that the organisation had a winnable case. Many felt that SAFA was hard done by, especially as Bafana Bafana had bagged three precious points from that match.
The general feeling is that by making this decision, FIFA is shooting itself in the foot and opening a door that they might not be able to shut in future.
The decision also flies in the face of the long-held Rule of the Game that has always declared that "The Referee's decision is final".
In the past, even in cases where the referees had been found to have erred with some even conceding their mistakes, the result of the game had stood except for once in the history of football.
However, SAFA’s stance has not only showed a great deal of maturity, but a sober decision in the midst of madness.
It has also proved in action that SAFA does support the notion of "Fair Play".
In a nutshell, FIFA’s decision means that South Africa and Senegal are being punished for a referee’s sins; a referee who at the time belonged to world football's governing body.
That can’t be fair in anyone's book.
S'Busiso Mseleku is regarded as one of Africa's leading
sports journalists and an authority on football. He has received some of
the biggest awards in a career spanning over 30 years. He is currently
City Press Sports Editor.
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