Robson Sharuko Senior Sports Editor—
FIFA have banned controversial Ghanaian referee Joseph Lamptey — who appears to have been part of a cartel of match officials who have been embedded with TP Mazembe in the past few years — for life for match-fixing. The ban comes just days after The Herald exposed Seychelles match official Bernard Camille, as the TP Mazembe’s aide-in-chief in the Champions League, as the skeletons start to tumble out of the cupboard in the new world football order.
Lamptey handled Mazembe’s Champions League match against Dynamos in 2010, which the Glamour Boys lost 0-2, and was in charge of the Warriors’ 2013 Nations Cup qualifier, first leg tie against Tanzania in Dar es Salaam where he ruled out Tendai Ndoro’s goal as the hosts won 1-0
Camille, the Seychelles referee with a tainted history of helping the Congolese giants’ cause, was forced to turn on a virtually flawless show — rich in fairness and pregnant with professionalism — in the showdown between TP Mazembe and CAPS United after having been squeezed into the spotlight by a barrage of reports in this newspaper.
A few TP Mazembe players and one official, probably stung with the way Camille was discharging his duties in a fair manner they were not familiar with, probably given the way the referee had seemingly helped their causes in the past, turned against him to protest at the end of the match on Sunday.
The Seychelles referee was at the centre of controversy when he gave TP Mazembe two dubious penalties in Lubumbashi, during a stormy Champions League qualifier against Orlando Pirates in 2013, which were both saved by the late goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa, in a game which the Congolese giants needed to score one more goal to advance.
Despite all that controversy, including the detaining of the SABC television crew personnel by security personnel so that they don’t capture footage of the match and the confiscation of mobile phones used by the Orlando Pirates’ delegation, the old CAF leadership didn’t act on that, amid accusations they had a good relationship with TP Mazembe’s wealthy owner Moise Katumbi.
Instead, to rub salt into the wounds, Camille still continued to get appointments to handle crucial TP Mazembe matches in both the Champions League and Confederation Cup.
However, there has been a change of leadership at both CAF and FIFA and, it appears, the skeletons — including cartels built to ensure that certain clubs or countries would benefit from dubious match-officiating — are starting to tumble out of the cupboards now with the new bosses at the world football governing body cracking the whip.
Ghanaian referee, Lamptey, is the first to be heavily punished after he shocked the globe by awarding Bafana Bafana a penalty in their 2018 World Cup qualifier against Senegal in Polokwane even though television replays clearly showed that the ball rebounded off defender Kalidou Koulibaly’s knee and not his hand.
He had been banned in January 2011 for six months for allowing a controversial ball, scored by a hand, to decide the Champions League
semi-final tie between Tunisian giants Esperance and Al Ahly of Egypt in October 2010.
‘’The Fifa Disciplinary Committee has decided to ban the Ghanaian match official Joseph Odartei Lamptey from taking part in any kind of football-related activity (administrative, sports or any other) at national and international level for life,’’ a statement released by Fifa said yesterday.
‘’The official was found guilty of breaching art. 69 par. 1 (unlawfully influencing match results) of the FIifa Disciplinary Code during the 2018 Fifa World Cup Russia qualifying match between South Africa and Senegal on November 12, 2016.
‘’On the other hand, all charges against the Ghanaian match official David Lionheart Nii Lartey Laryea, whose behaviour had also been the subject of investigations, were dismissed by the Fifa Disciplinary Committee.
‘’Further information concerning the South Africa v. Senegal match in question will be provided once the decision becomes final and binding. Fifa follows a zero-tolerance policy on match manipulation and is committed to protecting the integrity of football.’’
The Herald’s investigations have also revealed that Lamptey was also part of a group of referees who were used by Caf to ensure that certain results would emerge from matches, with TP Mazembe, who have won five Champions League titles featuring prominently in this cartel.
The Congolese giants, who are yet to qualify for the group stages of the Caf Champions League tournament since a new leadership took over at Fifa in February last year with Swiss lawyer Gianni Infantino taking over as the leader of world football, were knocked out this year by CAPS United after a goalless draw at the National Sports Stadium on Sunday.
Interestingly, Lamptey was also embedded with TP Mazembe and, after taking charge of the Congolese’s match against Zamalek of Egypt in 2014, he was accused by the then Zamalek coach Mido of having been bribed by the Congolese giants.
“Always I refuse to give excuses for the defeat, but I think that the referee’s performance was clear for all,” Mido, who played in the English Premiership, said after the match.
“African football will not move forward if the referees’ faults remain like that. In 2009, Egyptian referee Yasser Abdel-Raouf officially accused Mazembe chairman of offering him a bribe.
“Caf did not react and we are witnessing a repeat of that now. Mazembe is a strong team, especially when they play at home.”
It has also emerged that Lamptey also took charge of Dynamos’ Champions League match against, of course, TP Mazembe at Rufaro on July 18, 2010 which the Glamour Boys lost 0-2 with Ashley Rambanepasi, their midfield enforcer, being cautioned after just seven minutes while Wonder Sithole was also yellow carded a few minutes later.
The Ghanaian referee was also in charge of TP Mazembe’s match against a Ghanaian Select side in Ghana, which was witnessed by Katumbi, as he continued his dance with the Congolese giants.
Recently, Lamptey was the fourth official when Ghanaian giants Asante Kotoko lost 0-1, in controversial circumstances, to their biggest rivals Hearts of Oak. “I have just watched the replay. It wasn’t a penalty,’’ Kotoko assistant coach Godwin Ablordey said.
“Am even surprised Joseph Lamptey was the fourth referee. This is a man who went to South Africa, a ball hits a player in the thigh and he awards a penalty. He was handed a three months ban and here he is on the touchline in such a big game.
“I want everyone to go and watch the ball again. If it is a penalty, fair enough, but if it is not, we all know the kind of referees we have.’’ Lamptey was also selected to handle TP Mazembe’s match against Moroccan side Moghreb Athletic Tetouane in a CAF Champions League game on July 12 in 2015.