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.