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South African referee arrested for match-fixing

17 October 2013, 19:22

Cape Town - One of South Africa's top referees has been arrested by a high-priority crime unit for match-fixing, the national football association said on Thursday.

The statement came on the same day sportswear company Puma said it was exercising its right to terminate its sponsorship of South Africa's national team because of previous fixing allegations in the buildup to the country's hosting of the World Cup three years ago.

SAFA said the unnamed referee was on its panel of referees and was implicated in the case of Phil Setshedi, a former South Africa assistant coach who was sentenced to three years in prison in February after a sting operation caught him trying to bribe a referee to fix the outcome of a league promotion playoff. Setshedi was caught out by an undercover police officer posing as a referee, but his court case led SAFA to initially suspend this referee and place him under investigation.

"The arrest of the match official is an outcome of ongoing collaboration between SAFA and the Directorate of Priority Crimes Investigation which is aimed at pursuing all other persons of interest in the said case," SAFA chief executive Dennis Mumble said. "We would like to reiterate that we will leave no stone unturned until all the implicated persons are brought to book."

Mumble said the national association would not release any more details on the referee arrest, but had committed to "act swiftly, effectively and without fear or favor should we receive evidence of wrongdoing."

Mumble's assertion that SAFA was acting decisively was in stark contrast to the apparent lack of progress of a government-led investigation into allegations of fixing in warm-up games ahead of the 2010 World Cup, despite South African officials agreeing with FIFA in April that a probe must happen.

FIFA believes at least one of South Africa's friendlies in the weeks leading up to the last showcase was fixed but South African President Jacob Zuma has yet to appoint a panel to investigate.

Some of those South African warm-up games are believed to have been manipulated by referees working for the Singapore-based betting syndicate of Wilson Raj Perumal and Dan Tan, who was recently arrested and is accused of coordinating a global crime syndicate that made millions of dollars betting on rigged matches.

The South Africa matches that might have been fixed haven't been identified, but South Africa's 5-0 win over Guatemala and 2-1 win over Colombia in May 2010 have long been under suspicion.

Three penalties for handball were awarded by Niger referee Ibrahim Chaibou in South Africa-Guatemala, which is the match that raised the most concern. FIFA also wants to question Chaibou for his handling of other suspicious friendlies in Africa, Asia and South America, where a high number of penalties were awarded, apparently to feed illegal betting.

South Africa-Colombia was the official opening of Soccer City in Soweto. All three goals in that game, which was refereed by Kenyan official Samuel Langat, came from penalty kicks.

Langat was dropped from FIFA's list of referees authorized for international matches at the end of 2010, while Chaibou reached the mandatory retirement age of 45 in 2011 and FIFA hasn't yet tracked him down.

- AP

- AP


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