Match fixing scandal hit SAFA

SAFA yesterday confirmed that it has received from FIFA the report on the Pre—World Cup 2010 International Friendly Matches that was completed by the former Head of Security for FIFA, Mr Chris Eaton. 

The investigation by FIFA was instigated at the request of SAFA in October 2011, when speculation around the matches and the role of a possible international match-fixing syndicate in their manipulation had arisen.  Given that the alleged match-fixers were not South Africans, and given that FIFA were conducting investigations into this international syndicate at the same time, SAFA indicated to FIFA that this investigation would best be undertaken by FIFA.  This was agreed by FIFA, and the investigation began on March 1 this year.

The FIFA report addresses the question as to whether one or more of the pre-World Cup friendly matches was fixed, and finds compelling evidence that this was indeed the case.  The report outlines the workings of a bogus football development company, called Football 4U, which was a front for an Asian-based betting syndicate headed up by now-convicted match fixer, Wilson Raj Perumal.  Perumal and Football 4U managed to infiltrate SAFA prior to the World Cup, with an offer to assist with referee development.  The offer included providing FIFA-accredited Referees at their cost for the friendly matches prior to the FIFA 2010 World Cup.

The report identifies various SAFA officials who interacted with Football 4U, and recommends that “further examination” of these officials should take place, to see whether or not these interactions transgressed FIFA and or SAFA disciplinary codes, and whether any of these officials did so with criminal intent in collusion with Football 4U.

The SAFA Emergency Committee met on Friday morning to receive the summary report, and to discuss the appropriate action to take.  Given that the full report had not yet been received, and given also the complexity of the issues raised in the summary report and their possible implications, the meeting was adjourned to Sunday, to allow members to study more fully the report and its findings, as well as to take further legal opinion as to the way forward.

The meeting also agreed that the Chief Executive of SAFA, Dr Robin Petersen, be mandated to handle all media enquiries in this matter.

SAFA CEO, DR Robin Petersen, stated that “It is apparent from the report that the decision to ask FIFA to investigate this matter was the correct one, as the full extent of the web of international crime is now exposed.  After taking appropriate legal advice and following due process, we will take action against all who are found to have acted improperly or criminally in this matter”

“We have consistently stated, and now will demonstrate, that SAFA will not tolerate corruption of any form, or poor governance around compliance with FIFA and SAFA statutes and regulations.”

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