Safa boss reinstated

JOHANNESBURG — Safa president, Kirtsen Nematandani, and four of his lieutenants, who were suspended last month for alleged involvement in match-fixing prior to the 2010 World Cup, are back

in office after being reinstated yesterday.
Nemantandani, along with Barney Kunjane, Adeel Carelse, “Ace” Kika and Dennis Mumble, were suspended after a Fifa report implicated them in a report involving convicted Singapore match-fixer Wilson Perumal Raj and his shadowy Football 4U organisation.

But after meeting with Minister of Sport, Fakile Mbalula yesterday, it was decided to reinstate the five members before further investigations can follow.

The statement read: “Given the significance of the findings of the FIfa investigators, the investigation process that follows must be procedurally fair and sound to ensure firm outcomes.

Therefore, the NEC (National Executive Committee) took a number of critical decisions:

  • To refer the match-fixing report in its entirety (including requesting additional information from Fifa where necessary) to the appropriate Safa Standing Committees for analysis, action and appropriate recommendations to the NEC at its next meeting.
  • Refer all decisions, in respect of the match-fixing matter, for processing by the appropriate bodies. In this regard, the CEO will address all staffing matters and the NEC will process matters concerning the CEO and any other NEC Members.
  • To ensure appropriate resources are apportioned to the tribunal that will be set up and in this regard work closely with government as communicated by the minister.

“These decisions will ensure that the process moves forward properly and speedily and allow due process in dealing with all parties concerned.
“In taking these decisions, the NEC is cognisant of the fact that it is also important for the Association to allow proper due process for all those implicated in the report. It is also clear, the NEC affirmed, that it is not possible, without further rigorous investigation, to assign guilt or to exonerate any of those named in the report.”

Nematandani said: “We are determined to ensure that this report receives the critical attention that it deserves and that anyone found to have transgressed will be fully prosecuted, both in terms of Fifa and Safa codes of conduct, as well as through the criminal justice system, if necessary. It is critical that the integrity of the sport must be without question.”

South Africa was plunged into crisis last month, just a month before it hosts the African Nations Cup finals, with the suspension of its football association president and other top officials following a report into match-fixing involving the national team.

Safa said the officials would be suspended indefinitely as the organisation said it planned to ask a judge to set up an independent inquiry.

The Fifa report highlighted the involvement of the five South African officials, a press briefing in Johannesburg was told.

“These suspensions were necessary for good governance and for allowing this matter to be thoroughly and properly investigated,” said outgoing chief executive Robin Petersen, who was due to hand over to Mumble this month.

Fifa has alleged that the results of pre-World Cup warm-up matches against Thailand, Bulgaria, Colombia and Guatemala in the weeks leading up the 2010 finals were fixed.

The suspended officials had engaged Perumal to organise opponents for South Africa’s national team as they prepared to host the World Cup, and then also agreed to Perumal’s suggestion he bring in and pay referees from other African countries to handle the matches, Safa said.

The referees then fixed the results of the games to benefit an Asian betting syndicate, some of the matches filled with dubious penalty decisions and poor offside calls.

Allegations of match-fixing were first revealed in the South African press in July last year but Safa did not immediately act, only raising the issue once Fifa had incorporated the country into a wider investigation into Perumal.

Safa said it would ask a retired judge to take charge of an urgent commission of inquiry “so that the issue can be speedily resolved”.

The organisation’s image has suffered in recent years from in-fighting between football politicians and near bankruptcy, with an independent audit firm brought in to run the body’s finances.

Safa was hoping a successful Nations Cup tournament, which starts on January 19, would help turn around its fortunes and recently unveiled a long-term development plan it is hoping to entice corporate sponsors to back. — KickOff/Reuters

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