SAFA SUSPENDS SIX OF­FI­CIALS FOR match-fix­ing

Although only ABC Mot­sepe League was af­fected, some have han­dled PSL games

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

The SA Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (Safa) has sus­pended six match of­fi­cials in the on­go­ing crack­down on match-fix­ing. The of­fi­cials, who cannot be named un­til they have been for­mally charged on Tues­day, were sus­pended with im­me­di­ate ef­fect af­ter al­le­ga­tions of match-fix­ing and cor­rup­tion in the ABC Mot­sepe League.

They face counts of match-fix­ing, mis­con­duct, cor­rup­tion and bring­ing Safa into dis­re­pute.

Although most of their al­leged ac­tiv­i­ties hap­pened in last year’s na­tional pro­mo­tional play-offs in Bloem­fontein, Safa could not dis­count the pos­si­bil­ity of shenani­gans in league matches played this sea­son as well.

Un­til last week, some of the of­fi­cials, whose names are known to City Press, were in the na­tional panel and have been of­fi­ci­at­ing at Absa Pre­mier­ship matches.

A source close to the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was con­fi­dent of a suc­cess­ful con­vic­tion based on the in­for­ma­tion gath­ered.

He said the mat­ter was al­ready with the po­lice’s crime in­ves­ti­ga­tion unit, the Hawks, and the al­leged per­pe­tra­tors could be charged in­ter­nally and also face crim­i­nal charges.

“We have suf­fi­cient in­for­ma­tion to send them to jail right now,” said the of­fi­cial.

“We be­lieve we have a strong case and we are ready to pros­e­cute now. What de­layed us was that some of them were not con­sis­tent in their sub­mis­sions to us and the po­lice.

“We needed to cor­rob­o­rate some of the in­for­ma­tion gath­ered so far. But we are con­fi­dent that we have a tight case, and this should send a clear mes­sage that we mean busi­ness.”

He said they did not want to re­peat the same mis­takes made dur­ing the in­fa­mous Op­er­a­tion Drib­ble in 2004 – which in­ves­ti­gated match-fix­ing and cor­rup­tion – as most of the ar­rested of­fi­cials went free.

“We learnt our les­son then and we wanted to close all the loop­holes, and now we are ready to pounce.

“For­tu­nately, we did not have to force con­fes­sions as these of­fi­cials vol­un­teered the in­for­ma­tion. On top of ver­bal and writ­ten con­fes­sions, the of­fi­cials also sub­mit­ted af­fi­davits, so we be­lieve we have a strong case.”

He added that they were not only tar­get­ing match of­fi­cials, but clubs that ben­e­fited from the tom­fool­ery.

“We are fol­low­ing more leads and are con­fi­dent more sus­pen­sions will fol­low. Every­body who has ben­e­fited from these cor­rupt ac­tiv­i­ties should be brought to book. The match of­fi­cials cannot go down alone.”

Safa’s chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, Den­nis Mum­ble, con­firmed the sus­pen­sions and said the of­fi­cials would be charged soon.

“We told the se­lec­tion panel to no longer fix­ture them.”

He said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion would ex­tend to pre­vi­ous play-offs and, “if we are to find that clubs got pro­moted through cor­rup­tion, we will deal with them”.

City Press re­ported a fort­night ago that po­lice in Vereenig­ing were in­ves­ti­gat­ing a case of al­leged match­fix­ing in­volv­ing Gaut­eng ABC Mot­sepe League cham­pi­ons Mac­cabi. The club’s of­fi­cials al­legedly of­fered money to Vaal Professionals play­ers to ma­nip­u­late their match last month.

Professionals have since lodged a com­plaint with Safa, and the case will sit next week.

In 2013, the Bel­lville Spe­cialised Com­mer­cial Crime Court sen­tenced for­mer Bafana Bafana man­ager Phil Set­shedi to an ef­fec­tive three years in prison for at­tempt­ing to in­flu­ence the out­come of a Vo­da­com League play-off match in Cape Town in 2011.

He was found guilty of an at­tempt to un­duly and im­prop­erly in­flu­ence the out­come of one of the 2011 Vo­da­com play-off matches, and of con­tra­ven­ing sec­tion 15 of the Pre­ven­tion and Com­bat­ing of Cor­rupt Ac­tiv­i­ties Act.

We have suf­fi­cient in­for­ma­tion to send them to jail right now

PHOTO: LEFTY SHIVAMBU / GALLO IM­AGES

CRIME BUSTER Safa chief ex­ec­u­tive Den­nis Mum­ble says they are se­ri­ous about fight­ing cor­rup­tion

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