JOHANNESBURG, March 31 (Reuters) - FIFA have written to the South African government warning them against a judicial inquiry into the recent soccer match-fixing scandals, saying the matter should rather be handled by the country’s football association.
Several of South Africa’s warm-ups before they hosted the 2010 World Cup were found to have been fixed, which led to the brief suspension of senior South African Football Association (SAFA) officials, including its president Kirsten Nematandani.
South Africa’s Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC) recommended a judicial commission of inquiry but FIFA warned them of possible consequences should the government be seen to be intervening in football matters.
South Africa’s sports minister Fikile Mbalula told local media he would travel to FIFA headquarters in Zurich next week to discuss the issue with world football’s governing body.
“SASCOC have made a recommendation to us that we must go ahead with a judicial commission of inquiry into the matter,” Mbalula said.
“Match-fixing is about fraud, corruption and mismanagement. There is a rule of law in South Africa. Where there are suspicions, they must be investigated. SAFA must understand that you can’t be a referee and player at the same time,” he said.
SAFA vice president Danny Jordaan told Reuters his organisation had already asked police to investigate the matter.
Nematandani and four other top officials were briefly suspended following the handing over in December by FIFA to SAFA of a 500-page investigation into the activities of Wilson Raj Perumal and his Football 4U organisation.
But within a month their suspension was lifted on procedural grounds.
FIFA found the results of pre-World Cup warm-up matches against Thailand, Bulgaria, Colombia and Guatemala in the weeks leading up the 2010 finals were fixed.
Allegations of match-fixing were first revealed in the South African press in July 2011 year but SAFA did not immediately act, only raising the issue once FIFA had incorporated the country into a wider investigation into Perumal’s activities. (Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)