Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor
FIFA have banned former South African Football Association chief executive Leslie Sedibe for five years as part of a fresh crackdown on match-fixing that has seen the cancer dominate newspaper headlines in the region after ZIFA announced they have busted a cartel that was manipulating matches either side of the Limpopo.
Sedibe was one of the three officials, including former SAFA heads of referees — Steve Goddard and Adeel Carelse — who were sanctioned by the world football governing body yesterday for the roles they played in the scandal that saw a number of Bafana Bafana’s friendly matches, ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup, falling prey to Asian match-fixing gangsters.
Convicted match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumal’s company, Football4U International, was at the centre of the storm and infiltrated SAFA by providing opponents for Bafana Bafana, and the referees who handled their 2010 World Cup warm-up matches against Thailand, Bulgaria, Colombia and Guatemala.
South African referee Robert Sithole later told FIFA investigators, led by Terry Steans, the British consultant whose name has been featuring prominently in the latest match-fixing saga that erupted in this country last week, that on the morning of the match against Guatemala, he accompanied Ibrahim Chaibou, the referee from Niger who was handling the game that night, to a Bidvest bank.
Sithole said Chaibou, whose name would repeatedly feature in a number of matches investigated by FIFA around the world and feared to have been fixed, deposited about $100 000 in cash, with the money being wired to his wife in Niger.
Chaibou made a number of questionable calls, including giving two penalties from hell when the ball clearly never hit the hands of the Guetamala defenders, as South Africa — whom the fixers wanted to win the game by at least four goals — romped to a 5-0 victory before 25 000 delirious Bafana Bafana fans.
FIFA’s Early Warning System, which monitors gambling on sanctioned matches, detected odd movements in betting — just before the start of that game — with gamblers, especially those in the Asian region, keeping increasing their expectations on the number of goals that would be scored, pointing to the possibility that the match had been manipulated.
Before the game, the betting line had hovered around 2.5 goals, but by kick-off, the gamblers in Asia were putting huge amounts on more than four goals being scored in the match.
At half-time, Sithole said in his report, the two assistant referees from Tanzania were shivering.
Steans said in his report that the Bafana Bafana 2010 World Cup warm-up matches were certainly manipulated and the British consultant believes, in correspondence that has been seen by The Herald, that Perumal and his team are still manipulating football matches in South Africa.
Former ZIFA chief executive Henrietta Rushwaya, accused by ZIFA for allegedly being a member of a cartel that has been fixing matches in South Africa and was plotting to manipulate Zimbabwe’s 2017 Nations Cup qualifiers against Swaziland, says she contacted Steans in December last year when she was approached by match-fixers who wanted to fix games in South Africa and the Olympic Games in Brazil this year.
Yesterday, FIFA announced they had banned Sedibe, who was the SAFA chief executive at the time the South African football controlling body entered into an agreement with Perumal’s Football4U International company, for five years and fined him 20 000 Swiss francs.
“The adjudicatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee chaired by Hans-Joachim Eckert has banned several officials from all football-related activities (administrative, sports or any other) at both national and international level,” FIFA said in a statement.
“Three cases were decided concerning international friendly matches played in South Africa in 2010. The investigation, initiated on November 2014, against (former) football officials of the South African Football Association (SAFA) were conducted by Dr Cornel Borbély, chairman of the investigatory chamber of the Ethics Committee, in collaboration with the FIFA Security Division.
“They relate to the proceedings against Lindile Kika which were decided in October 2015. Mr Kika was banned from all football-related activities for six years by the adjudicatory chamber of the Ethics Committee.
“In this regard, the adjudicatory chamber decided that the former official Leslie Sedibe had infringed Art. 13 (General rules of conduct), art. 15 (Loyalty), and art. 18 (Duty of disclosure, co-operation and reporting) of the FIFA Code of Ethics (FCE) and imposed a ban on him from taking part in any football-related activities for five years and a fine of CHF 20 000.
“Furthermore, the former officials Steve Goddard and Adeel Carelse were both also found guilty of violating articles 13, 15, and 18 of the FCE and each received a ban of two years.
“All bans come into force immediately.
“The investigations were started in November 2014, looking at, among others, Bafana Bafana’s 5-0 hammering of Guatemala in May 2010.”
Kika, a former SAFA head of national teams, was banned from all football-related activities for six years for his role in the scandal.
Goddard told The New York Times that he found it strange, back then, that a private company would be handed the rights to choose referees for international matches and, when he raised the red flag, a representative from Football4U arrived at his offices with a $3 500 bribe which he claims to have turned down.
However, other SAFA officials decided to go ahead with the deal.
Poobalan Govindasamy, the chairman of the SAFA Ethics Committee, welcomed the FIFA sanctions.
“We are glad this matter has ultimately reached this stage since SAFA reported the matter to FIFA almost four years ago. It had dragged on too long for our liking and was starting to have an impact on us as an association and our valued stakeholders,” he said.
“At SAFA we have a zero-tolerance policy for any corrupt activity which impacts negatively on this beautiful game and for that reason we welcome strong measures against any individual who is found guilty of such offenses. This should serve as a warning to anyone harbouring intentions of engaging in nefarious activities within the sport that the long arm of the law will catch up with them. Be warned.”
But Sedibe hit back at FIFA, accusing the world football governing body of making him a scapegoat.
“One of the allegations is that an impression that has been created and you’ve all been told lies that I met Wilson Perumal at SAFA House,” he said yesterday.
“Here is a letter, dated 29 April 2010, addressed to Kirsten Nematandani who was the president of SAFA at the time.
“Why did SAFA not publicly disclose the fact that the police had indeed investigated this matter? Secondly, that the National Prosecuting Authority had taken a decision not to prosecute?
“My repeated requests for access to certain information has been ignored by SAFA. When I became CEO at SAFA it was bankrupt. There was no money for these friendlies — which by the way — were not even requested by me. FIFA has been plagued by scandals and I wasn’t surprised by all of this.
“The truth about the $10 million will come out. Watch this space. Despite having had an operation and not receiving information, FIFA demanded that I appear for a hearing in Zurich at my own cost
Therefore the FIFA investigation remains incomplete. SAFA is withholding information that is critical for me to respond I then requested access to documents in order to respond — which never happened. I have also never been interviewed by FIFA I then requested access to documents in order to respond — which never happened. I have also never been interviewed by FIFA.”