18th of December 2012 Author: Johnny Karp
The president of the South African Football Association (Safa) and four other leading officials have been suspended after Fifa (International Football Association) found "compelling evidence" that some international friendly matches were fixed to the benefit of Far East betting syndicates. Kirsten Nematandani, new Safa chief executive officer Dennis Mumble and three others were relieved of their duties while an investigation takes place into the alleged fixing of four matches before the 2010 World Cup.
A Fifa investigation discovered that Safa was infiltrated by convicted Singaporean match-fixer Wilson Perumal and his Football 4U organisation. Perumal is believed to have appointed referees for the games against Thailand, Bulgaria, Colombia and Guatemala, the outcomes of which were found to have been pre-arranged to benefit an Asian betting syndicate.
An official statement on the Safa website said the organisation "accepted Fifa's report as received" and added that "a commission of enquiry will be set up, under the leadership of a retired judge, to fully investigate the matter and the members cited in the report. Safa apologised to Fifa and undertook to take the urgent and serious actions to deal with the matter."
Safa vice-president Chief Mwelo Nonkonyana, who has been asked to act as president in the interim, said: "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."
South Africa's 5-0 win over Guatemala and 2-1 win over Colombia in May 2010, just two weeks before the World Cup kicked off, have long been under suspicion. Niger referee Chaibou Ibrahim awarded no less than three penalties for handball in the Guatemala game and Fifa has been trying to question him for more than a year over his decisions in several matches. Moreover, all three goals in the match against Colombia, refereed by a Kenyan official, came from penalty kicks.
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