Corrupt refs? Fifa offers to help SA investigate

2020-01-20 08:30

World football governing body Fifa has undertaken to help Safa get to the bottom of the latest allegations of corruption involving local match officials.

This follows a huge outcry from NFD clubs across various provinces. They have been complaining about the standard of refereeing in the GladAfrica Championship.

The second-tier campaigners also alleged that there was a syndicate working to benefit certain teams so they could gain promotion to the PSL.

It was based on these allegations, which were made mostly on social media, that Safa president Danny Jordaan declared: “This is no longer a football matter, but a criminal matter.”

Fifa are saying they are ready to support. They have invited Safa’s integrity officer Alex Abercrombie to brief them
Danny Jordaan

Safa contacted the national office of the SA Police Service on Wednesday.

Jordaan this week hinted that the domestic football controlling body would also write to Fifa and CAF to ask for help so they could get to the bottom of the claims.

It didn’t take long before Fifa, through its integrity department, reached out to Safa.

In the response to Safa on Friday, which City Press has seen, Fifa acknowledged receiving Safa’s letter, and the international football federation indicated it was ready to support the local association with its investigations.

The federation, based in Zurich, Switzerland, also thanked Safa for its commitment to protecting the integrity of football.

“Fifa are saying they are ready to support. They have invited Safa’s integrity officer Alex Abercrombie to brief them,” said Jordaan.

He also called on those with information to come forward.

“The police said: ‘If you’re serious about these allegations, put everything together and handover the information and we’ll investigate.’ But there is no solid proof as yet.”

Since the start of the current season in August, there have been rumblings about poor officiating, and it was inevitable that allegations of corruption would surface in the midst of the complaints.

The complaints reached a boiling point when NFD side TS Galaxy became the latest club to raise their suspicions following a 2-1 home loss to Real Kings last weekend.

Video footage of incensed supporters was posted on Twitter following the game at the Kameelrivier Stadium in Mpumalanga.

It is alleged that senior Safa and PSL officials were part of what’ being called a syndicate

The group appeared to be hurling insults at the match officials.

A caller on the popular Robert Marawa Sports Worldwide show on Metro FM, who only identified himself as John, claimed to have observed the questionable practices in the GladAfrica Championship league.

He alleged that senior Safa and PSL officials were part of what’ being called a syndicate.

“Unfortunately, people say on Twitter, Facebook and on radio that there is corruption. They must give that information to the police because we have to deal with the facts,” said Jordaan.

“It is also unfair that everybody must be smeared with these allegations. We must also protect the integrity of refereeing.

“Just on Friday, 120 referees passed. Most them were young and 40 were women. A number of them got Fifa badges,” said Jordaan of the referee workshop that took place this week.

A number of the local match officials underwent mid-term training under the supervision of Fifa and CAF instructors on the East Rand this week.

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May 31 2020