SAFA calls for independent probe into match-fixing scandal

Cape Town, May 1 (IANS) The South African Football Association (SAFA) has called for an independent probe into claims that it was involved in match-fixing schemes before the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

The government should expedite the establishment of an independent judicial commission of inquiry to investigate match-fixing allegations involving the national team Bafana Bafana, a SAFA delegation led by Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Sport and Recreation (PCSR) said Tuesday, reports Xinhua.

“We urge the government to set up an independent judicial commission of inquiry into these rumours as soon as possible,” said SAFA National Executive Committee member Poobalan Govindasamy.

South Africa reached an agreement with FIFA last month that an independent inquiry should be set up to deal with match-fixing allegations.

SAFA’s national executive committee subsequently endorsed this agreement.

Match fixing was suspected in SAFA’s friendly matches against Thailand, Colombia, Bulgaria and Guatemala in the weeks leading up to the World Cup.

It was revealed that match officials had been provided by Football 4U, a football development front company, run by match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumal from Singapore. Perumal was found guilty of rigging South Africa’s international friendlies ahead of the 2010 World Cup. He has been convicted in Finland in 2011.

During the games, SAFA intervened and appointed their own officials, to replace the international referees recruited and supplied by Perumal’s company, for the fifth and final friendly versus Denmark.

Football 4U allegedly infiltrated SAFA and paid the association for match fixing prior to the 2010 World Cup, according to a FIFA investigation.

SAFA has been under fire for its alleged role in the match- fixing. A new Safa leadership would be elected in September this year to revive the embattled association.

Also Tuesday, SAFA presented a technical master plan to the PCSR. The plan includes the formation of nine provincial soccer academies which will aide in the sports development of the country.

The committee applauded the plan, saying it will change football in the country and will enable the identification and the nurturing of new talent which is what is needed for the game to develop further.

The Committee said it is of the view that even though there is no crisis within the organisation, management needs to expedite the process of fixing the organisation, especially with regards to financial challenges and those challenges that hinder football development.

“Sports development is crucial in the country and for the country to be recognised among the best in terms of football, the organisation tasked with taking care of football should have its house in order,” the committee said in a statement e-mailed to Xinhua.

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