South African qualifier was fixed: Fifa

CAPE TOWN • South African football was embroiled in another scandal on Monday when world football's governing body Fifa said the national team's World Cup qualifying win over Senegal last year was fixed, leaving the legacy of the country's hosting of the 2010 Finals in more turmoil.

In banning Ghanaian referee Joseph Lamptey for life, Fifa said the outcome of South Africa's 2-1 home win in African Group D in November had been contrived.

The official was found guilty of unlawfully influencing the match result after handing South Africa a soft penalty for handball just before half-time and allowing a second goal in controversial circumstances from a quickly taken free-kick soon after in a qualifying match for the 2018 Finals in Russia.

Who had influenced Lamptey to help South Africa win the match was not addressed in Fifa's statement on Monday.

However, the world ruling body did say: "Further information concerning the South Africa v Senegal match in question will be provided once the decision becomes final and binding.

"Fifa will continue with its ongoing efforts to combat match manipulation through a variety of initiatives, which include the monitoring of international betting and a confidential reporting system with a dedicated integrity hotline and e-mail address."

Fifa officials, who did not want to be named, told Reuters match-fixing was uncovered following irregular betting activity. South Africa's Football Association (Safa) did not respond on Monday to questions about the match-fixing allegations.

The revelation follows allegations that South Africa paid a US$10 million (S$13 million) bribe to former Fifa vice-president Jack Warner to help secure the rights to the 2010 World Cup Finals.

Although South Africa's Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula rejected the bribery allegation a year ago, they have tarnished the legacy of the 2010 World Cup Finals.

"The buoyancy we felt with hosting the World Cup seems very far away now," local football editor Richard Maguire said on Monday.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 22, 2017, with the headline 'South African qualifier was fixed: Fifa'. Print Edition | Subscribe