The president of the South African Football Association and four officials were suspended on Monday after a report was released by FIFA that gave evidence that matches during the 2010 World Cup were fixed by gambling syndicates. FIFA has increased their efforts to combat corruption by partnering with online sites to detect suspicious gambling activity and their efforts appear to be paying off.
An apology was issued by the association to FIFA on Monday and they claimed that they would launch an investigation into the actions of their officials. They have also asked President Kirsten Nematandani to take a leave of absence from her position.
Adeel Carelse, Dennis Mumble, Barney Kujane and Lindile ‘Ace’ Kika were the other officials involved in the scandal and they have also been requested to take leaves. In the interim, Mwelo Nonkonyana will serve as the association’s president. He was the vice-president of the association prior to the incident.
In a statement, Nonkonyana said that “This is a difficult situation for the association, and for those who have been named in the report. We hope that there will be no speculation about their presumed guilt or otherwise. We need to allow the investigation to take place speedily and fairly, so those that are innocent can be separated from those who are not.”
FIFA’s report was received by the association on Saturday and at that point they admitted that an agent of an Asian betting syndicate had infiltrated their ranks. Wilson Perumai is a convicted match-fixer and his football company Football4U was discovered to be a phony company used by the syndicate.
Fortunately, there were no players named in the report. Rather, it was referees appointed by the Football4U organization that were manipulated to fix games during buildup games for the World Cup. It is possible that South African officials assisted in the fix.
SAFA would not comment on which games were linked to match-fixing, but two games late May of 2010 are those being suspected of fixing. Those matches are South Africa’s 5-0 victory against Guatemala and their 2-1 win against Colombia.
Referee Ibrahim Chaibou appears to be one of the main referees being targeted. He awarded multiple penalties for handballs in the Guatemala match and at least two of them appear inaccurate. Chaibou is also suspected of fixing other games in Africa, South America, and Asia. Those games have a high number of penalties and the fix is suspected in order to help feed gambling scams.
When charges of game-fixing were brought against the South African team, SAFA asked FIFA to conduct the investigation in their place. FIFA began their investigation in March. Incidents like this reinforced FIFA’s position that referees are indeed the weak link in preventing match fixing incidents and the results of the investigations surrounding the South African matches should help the organization to better protect the integrity of the 2014 World Cup.