SAFA explains acceptance of FIFA ruling

SAFA senior advocate Norman Arendse has put forth a detailed explanation as to why it was decided to accept FIFA’s order to replay a crucial World Cup qualifier against Senegal.

Last week it was made public that, given CAS’s decision to uphold FIFA’s ruling to hand Ghanaian referee Joseph Lamptey a lifetime ban for manipulating the 2018 World Cup qualifier between Bafana Bafana and the Lions of Teranga in November last year, the match ought to be replayed.

SAFA president Danny Jordaan earlier revealed the association has provisionally accepted the ruling by the world football governing body, for the “moral and ethical” purposes of football.

Arendse has since revealed that the majority of SAFA National Executive Committee members were in favour of an appeal, but further detailed the discussion at the emergency committee meeting on Monday that lead to the decision to accept the FIFA ruling.

“A poll that was taken amongst our NEC members were overwhelmingly in favour of an appeal. But of course, individually, NEC member didn’t have the kind of debate and discussion that happened yesterday, and that was the key,” explained Arendse.

“To come back to what the president said, there were two things on the table: a legal position in terms of which we would file an appeal, which has been ready to lodge with the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), or we could adopt a big picture approach, which involves the integrity of the game – the so-called ‘moral issues’.

“A pertinent question some of you [media] have raised over the past couple of days came up in discussion again yesterday: do we, as SAFA, want to benefit from the misdeeds of a third party?

“Are we… I’m sure we are desperate, but are we that desperate for three points when we know the evidence indicates that this individual manipulated the outcome of the game? That was really the discussion yesterday.”

Arendse, however, revealed that the evidence gathered in the investigation by FIFA has yet to be presented to SAFA, but explained that “strictly confidential” documents presented to the EMCO on Monday gave them reason to believe that the ruling was fair.

“Problem number one is we’ve never been shown or given this evidence, but what was before the Emergency Committee [EMCO] meeting yesterday, which was not before the individual NEC members because the information given to us is marked strictly confidential, so I’m afraid I can’t even share it with you,” he added.

“What was sent to us yesterday differs materially to what was said to us in the decision [from FIFA], and that would have been the grounds you would exploit as a lawyer going on appeal.

“Now it appears that this referee did not manipulate the outcome of the match in favour of South Africa, because FIFA has an ‘Early Warning System’ whereby every game under the auspices of FIFA is monitored and any ‘spikes’, in betting terms, are immediately alerted to for potential manipulation.

“Whether that early warning was also relayed to Senegal we will never know, but certainly we were told that there was a complaint by Senegal and it would be investigated.

“We were never told that the outcome may be in the balance, but it now turns out that what was manipulated was the number of goals that were scored in the match.

“In other words, it could have been a 2-1 result in favour of Senegal, but in this case it was 2-1 in our favour, and there were two periods during the game where there was apparently these two ‘spikes’.

“It would appear that some people – unknown, random people from anywhere in the world – made a lot of money on that game, and the poor referee was then put in the dock and we just know, from his own lawyers, that he’s denied being involved in any match manipulation.

“FIFA have told us that everything points to the referee being involved, and what EMCO accepted yesterday was what FIFA told us, and the outcome was that we won’t pursue an appeal at this stage.”

Article by: Chad Klate

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