For­mer CEO Sed­ibe sues Fifa for R65m

CityPress - - Sport - TI­MOTHY MOLOBI ti­mothy@city­press.co.za

For­mer SA Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (Safa) CEO Les­lie Sed­ibe is on a se­ri­ous mis­sion to clear his tar­nished im­age.

He has served Fifa with a let­ter of de­mand for $5 mil­lion (R64.7 mil­lion) for defama­tion of char­ac­ter.

The let­ter – which comes af­ter his R5 mil­lion law­suit against Safa – was served to visit­ing Fifa pres­i­dent Gianni In­fantino, who was in the coun­try for a Fifa sum­mit this week.

Sed­ibe’s lawyer, David Swartz, said they sent a court sher­iff to de­liver the let­ter to In­fantino at the Sand­ton Con­ven­tion Cen­tre on Mon­day.

Swartz said they were also de­mand­ing Fifa “to pub­licly and of­fi­cially with­draw the re­port on Bafana Bafana match­fix­ing; with­draw the sanc­tions im­posed on Sed­ibe; and re­lease a me­dia state­ment on the re­trac­tion of the re­port – at Fifa’s ex­pense – in the New York Times, the Guardian and two na­tional South African news­pa­pers”.

This was af­ter Fifa banned Sed­ibe from all foot­ball-re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties for a pe­riod of five years, based on the re­port of allegations of match-fix­ing in­volv­ing Bafana Bafana be­fore the 2010 Soc­cer World Cup.

Swartz said they gave Fifa 14 days to re­spond, fail­ing which, they would go ahead with their claim. He said they ap­proached Swiss-based lawyer Gre­gor Büh­ler to as­sist with the case.

In the let­ter sent to Fifa, the lawyer chal­lenges Sed­ibe’s sanc­tion and ar­gues that it “dam­aged our client’s good name and rep­u­ta­tion, which, prior to the re­port, was of the high­est stan­dard as our client has al­ways con­ducted him­self in a most eth­i­cal man­ner in all his busi­ness ven­tures and po­si­tions he held.

“It is im­pos­si­ble for our client to pur­sue var­i­ous busi­ness ven­tures as now any en­tity or per­son, in light of the vast neg­a­tive cov­er­age in re­spect to the sanc­tions im­posed on him (wrong­fully) by Fifa, refuse to deal with him.”

They ar­gue the re­port “was premised on var­i­ous un­sub­stan­ti­ated and base­less allegations which had been lev­elled against our client”.

“It is com­mon cause that the find­ing by Fifa in the re­port was pred­i­cated on un­truth­ful and defam­a­tory in­for­ma­tion pre­sented by rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Safa.

“Fur­ther­more, it is com­mon cause that our client was not af­forded an op­por­tu­nity to present his case to Fifa prior to the re­lease of the re­port, and that the ve­rac­ity of the allegations put for­ward by the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of Safa were never prop­erly in­ves­ti­gated and tested by Fifa.”

The lawyers re­it­er­ate that Sed­ibe has al­ready taken le­gal ac­tion against Safa, as well as “those rep­re­sen­ta­tives who made false and defam­a­tory allegations on which the re­port and its find­ings is premised”.

PHOTO: LUCKY MORAJANE

PAY UP Les­lie Sed­ibe wants his tar­nished im­age re­paired

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