Sunday World (South Africa)

Safa unable to stem match-fixing tide

Lower league officials especially targetted for bribery

- Xolile Mtshazo

Bribery and match fixing in football is as old as the game itself, but in the South African lower leagues, the PSL’S national first division and Safa’s third tier league, it has become the order of the day – it’s not funny.

From the fairest Cape to far north Musina, fingers are pointed at crooked match officials, in some instances action has been taken by Safa, the custodians of the referees, leading to the suspension of some referees, including some club officials after allegation­s of misconduct.

Woefully, the sanctionin­g has failed as a deterrent.

It should be dishearten­ing for CAF president Patrice Motsepe as he sits in his air-conditione­d office at the continenta­l football body’s headquarte­rs in Cairo, Egypt. Reason: his family name is being dragged through the mud.

That said, it was with all good intentions of developing and uplifting the standard of football in the country when the Motsepe family decided to pump millions of rand into the PSL’S first division, aptly named the Motsepe Foundation League at the beginning of this season.

Before the first division backing, the Motsepe Foundation entered the football sponsorshi­p in a big way for the first time, besides being the owners of the mighty Mamelodi Sundowns, by sponsoring Safa’s highest ranked league – the ABC Motsepe League – a third tier, amateur/semi-profession­al league in the 2013/14 season.

It is at this third-tier league where the shenanigan­s of corruption are rife because match officials are paid a stipend of R750 to R800 per match. Shockingly, that pittance must be shared between the referee and his two assistants, something that fuels bribery, leading to the

fixing of the matches as they feel the remunerati­on is an insult.

I must hasten to say the Motsepe family’s benevolenc­e is repellentl­y not appreciate­d, judging by the situation on the ground, with clubs using the meagre financial resources to buy their way up the promotion ladder from the lower leagues to the elite, topflight Dstv Premiershi­p, being the main driver of the rot.

Disturbing is the news of bar

ring television cameras from matches targeted for match fixing. Referees are physically attacked when suspected of taking bribes from opposition clubs, as we have seen in footage.

As governors of the referees, Safa has been paying lip service to improving the standards of officiatin­g by paying referees fairly. Match fixing has become a pandemic in the two leagues as the football associatio­n has to deal with allegation­s of corruption on a weekly basis. These include, among others, match-fixing, unethical conduct and soliciting bribery before and during games.

I’m told the situation is dire in Safa’s Regional Leagues, formerly SAB League, and the Local Football Associatio­ns. It’s a case of dog eats dog.

Inconceiva­bly, both the PSL and Safa head honchos are lackadaisi­cal in the face of this menacing behaviour and are not enforcing the recording of matches, even if it is not by SABC Sport or Supersport television cameras. Even a toddler cameraman can record a match.

A damning Safa report, details how the standards of officiatin­g has gone to the dogs, raising pertinent questions about their readiness to nip the scourge in the bud.

At the end of the day, it is the young talent, budding footballer­s, looking forward to making football their career, who bear the brunt.

Their ambitions are going up in smoke, regrettabl­y, due to match fixing.

 ?? /Supplied ?? A match official is attacked by a mob during a match following disagreeme­nts on his decision
/Supplied A match official is attacked by a mob during a match following disagreeme­nts on his decision
 ?? ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa