Bafana Bafana match fixing a crime on a nation

Bernard Parker celebrating a brace in Bafana Bafana’s 2010 2-1 win over Columbia before the World Cup in South Africa. This result, and three others, were fixed

The revelation that four Bafana Bafana matches were fixed before the 2010 World Cup in South Africa has sent shock waves through the corridors of South African sport.

As a result of a Fifa probe which found Bafana Bafana’s matches against Columbia, Guatamala, Thailand and Bulgaria in 2010 to have fixed, the president of the South African Football Association (Safa) Kirsten Nematandari, it’s new CEO Dennis Mumble and three others have been suspended.

The Fifa investigation found that Safa had been infiltrated by convicted match-fixer Wilson Perumal and his Football 4U organisation.

Perumal organised referees for the four friendly games, which South Africa won through a spate of penalties and odd decisions. The results reportedly benefited betting syndicates in Asia.

Safa have accepted the report and will institute a commission of inquiry. Whatever the outcome, the match-fixing is shame and a crime against the people of South Africa, whose mood became the plaything of gamblers.

South Africa were desperate for positive results before the 2010 World Cup, and for Safa to stoop so low marks the latest and worst failure by an organisation that has a well earned reputation for administrative incompetency.

Not since cricket’s Hansie Cronje-scandal over a decade ago has South Africa’s hopes and dreams on the sports field been so emphatically extinguished by the dark reality of greed and corruption.

One of the few places this complicated country feels together, as one or as close to it as possible, is on the sports field. As such, that holy place between the sidelines has been sullied once more. Will South African soccer fans forever more be asking the question after a positive result: “Was it fixed?”

If the Cronje-scandal taught us anything, it was that soccer will more or less recover.
However, the loss of innocence regarding the Rainbow Nation’s attitude to the sporting world is now complete, if it wasn’t already.

There is no such thing as a victim-less crime.


With Rooney on the rise, United look good for title

Rooney’s revitalization on the pitch has been steady this season, and bodes well for Manchester United’s title chances

Manchester United’s 3-2 win over Manchester City is a possible turning point in the title race. While it sounds premature to suggest the season is over after only one-third of it having passed, United breaking City’s unbeaten league home record of 37 games is a significant show from the red half of Manchester that as the matter stands, they are now in pole position in the title race.

Naysayers would shout that City overhauled a eight-point lead last season, so why couldn’t they do it this season?

The answer to that question is two-fold: Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie.

While Van Persie has more than justified his 24 million pound asking price from Arsenal, banging in goal after goal in this very attacking United team, it is Rooney who is the more interesting case.

He didn’t start the season as quickly as he would like, perhaps a hangover from his muddled exploits in the 2012 European Championships. And with Van Persie stealing his proverbial thunder, Rooney has not had as much expectation heaped on him as in previous years when he was United’s lone world class attacking player following the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Do not misunderstand me. The likes of Ashley Young, Michael Carrick, Nani (when on song), and Antonio Valencia are all fine pieces of the jigsaw, but it is in Rooney that England every two years, and United every year, have put its championship hopes and dreams.

Looking sharper and hungrier, his two goals against Reading and brace in the Manchester derby indicate that as the season reaches its manic Christmas period, United’s leading English player is hitting his stride.

For the other sides in the Premiership, that is very bad news.