18 December 2012

South Africa: Safa President, Officials Suspended

Photo: Safa
South African Football Association (Safa) President Kirsten Nematandani.

Pretoria — South African Football Association (Safa) President Kirsten Nematandani and four other officials have been put on suspension following a match fixing inquiry into four warm-up games involving Bafana Bafana before the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

In a statement on Monday, Safa said that following its Emergency Committee meeting that started on Friday and concluded on Sunday, several decisions were taken concerning the report on match fixing compiled by FIFA investigators that was received by the association on Friday.

"After extensive discussions, the Emergency Committee felt that the President would have to appear before the Commission of Inquiry to explain his role in the matter. Having considered the implications of this for Safa, the committee asked the President [Nematandani] to take a voluntary leave of absence from his position," said Safa.

A Commission of Inquiry is also to be set up under the leadership of a retired judge to fully investigate the matter and the members that have been cited in the report, which the Emergency Committee considered and accepted.

The suspension also extends to Safa CEO and interim CEO Dennis Mumble, head of referees Adeel Carelse, head of national teams Lindile Kika, and former head of national teams Barney Kujane.

"This action in no way implies that these individuals were involved in match fixing. It is again simply for good governance that this measure is being implemented," noted Safa.

The national team played friendlies against Bulgaria, Colombia, Thailand and Guatemala prior to the 2010 World Cup spectacle.

"Secondly, the committee resolved to write to FIFA and acknowledge that, through the actions of members of its staff during the warm-up matches prior to the FIFA 2010 World Cup, there is a prima facie breach of FIFA Statute 13.1 (g), which prohibits the control of its affairs by an outside party, in this case Football 4U International controlled by Singaporean Wilson Perumal Raj and his criminal syndicate."

The committee noted that the appointment of Football 4U International was never brought to the attention of the SAFA NEC. The football association then apologised to FIFA.

The meeting decided that vice-president Chief Mwelo Nonkonyana will act as President in the interim.

In addition, all staff members mentioned in the report who will need to give evidence at the commission will be put on special administrative leave pending the finalisation of the inquiry.

Former CEO Lesley Sedibe and the former Head of Referees Steve Goddard, will also be asked to give evidence and cooperate with the inquiry.

The meeting also decided that Pinky Lehoko be appointed as acting CEO in the interim.

Dr Robin Petersen the outgoing CEO said the decisions taken were necessary for good governance and for allowing the issue to be thoroughly and properly investigated.

Chief Nonkonyana said: "This is a difficult situation for the association, and for those who have been named in the report. We hope that there will be no speculation about their presumed guilt or otherwise.

"We need to allow the investigation to take place speedily and fairly, so those that are innocent can be separated from those who are not."

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