Fifa’s explosive report
The Fifa report on match-fixing involving Bafana Bafana’s pre-World Cup matches has slammed most witnesses as evasive and unhelpful. Five Safa officials, including president Kirsten Nematandani, were put on special leave after being named in the report. We break down what the report says about each of them
The Fifa report on match fixing involving Bafana Bafana pre-World Cup matches has slammed some witnesses as evasive and unhelpful.
Five Safa officials, including president Kirsten Nematandani, were put on special leave after being named in the report. We break down what the report says about each of them.
Four weeks prior to the start of preparations for the 2010 World Cup, a male of apparently Indian origin (a man Fifa has identified as Jason Jo Lourdes, a longtime friend of Wilson Perumal Raj, who was posing at Safa’s offices as “Mohammad”) presented a signed letter of introduction addressed to the Safa president.
The letter, dated April 29 2010, was addressed to Nematandani and was headed “Referees exchange program”.
The text stated that Nematandani had met with Wilson Perumal Raj – the Singaporean owner of Football4U International, a company that has since been discredited as being heavily involved in match-fixing by providing referees who are on the company’s payroll to adjudicate matches.
The letter stated that sometime previously in Joburg, Nematandani and Perumal had met to discuss a referees exchange programme, along with other services that Football4U could provide to Safa.
Nematandani denied having ever seen the letter or having any knowledge of its existence until it was shown to him by Chris Eaton, Fifa’s head of security.
Nematandani confirmed that Steve Goddard, then acting head of referees, had indeed called him and told him he had been offered money and that the company (Football4U) was to be viewed with suspicion.
When Fifa investigators wanted to check Nematandani’s emails, his mailstore server files were, however, absent.
Steve Goddard was not in his office at the time Lourdes, posing as “Mohammad”, wanted to see someone in the referees department.
So Adeel Carelse was instead called to meet the visitor.
Lourdes introduced himself to Carelse as “Mohammad” and said he represented a company called Football4U International.
He explained to Carelse that his company developed referees worldwide and they would like to set up an agreement with Safa to develop their referees and put them onto a worldwide exchange programme.
After a brief chat with Carelse, “Mohammad” was taken to the Safa referees department (at Safa House), presented to and left with Goddard.
Fifteen minutes or so later, Goddard and “Mohammad” visited the office shared by Carelse and Lindela “Ace” Kika, the head of national teams.
A brief discussion ensued, after which Goddard was told to take “Mohammad” to meet with the CEO Sedibe, but only after first introducing him to Dennis Mumble, then the chief operating officer and then Bafana team manager for the World Cup in 2010.
Kika informed Goddard and Carelse of the CEO’s decision and from that point in late April 2010 Football4U International were working inside Safa with the agreement of Safa’s chief executive.
According to the report, Carelse’s version of events lacked in any detail and only served as an attempt to show himself in a good light.
In the opinion of Carelse, the refereeing standards of Football4U referees were poor but he did not state why they were poor. For a former referee and member of the Referees Committee, Fifa felt this was not a very professional appraisal.
After a meeting between Sedibe and Lourdes, posing as “Mohammad”, Kika was called to Sedibe’s office and he was told by the then chief executive, Sedibe, that it had been agreed that Football4U would supply referees for Bafana’s four international friendly matches.
Sedibe told Kika that Football4U would carry all costs for providing the referees.
He was also told that this would help alleviate Safa’s financial constraints by allowing them to hold warm-up friendly matches at minimal expense to Safa.
Sedibe at first denied ever having seen a written agreement or any documentation in respect of Football4U.
He also denied signing any document in respect of Football4U.
However, when Sedibe was shown the document by Chris Eaton, he studied it and then said that it was his signature but that he did not remember signing it.
Sedibe agreed that he must have signed it, but that this could easily have slipped past him during the busy period leading up to the World Cup.
When pressed, Sedibe again confirmed that it was certainly his signature on the document.
There was no mailstore server file provided for Sedibe’s email account.
The investigators felt that, as a lawyer with legal experience and training, Sedibe should have carried out more due diligence to find out who was behind Football4U before entering into an agreement that also fundamentally breached Fifa statutes.
Sedibe had also lost his Safa laptop and Safa staff advised they could not find it.
Sedibe left Safa in 2011.
Kujane’s name only appears on page 41 on the list of people whose email files were not provided to the investigators.
Steve Goddard is the only Safa staff member to state that the Singaporean syndicate offered him about R30 000, which he turned down.
He was told that he was being offered the money because he was the “stopper in the deal”.
He reported this offer of a bribe to Adeel Carelse and Ace Kika.
Goddard, who was the acting head of referees, realised his report had not been taken forward and so he called Kirsten Nematandani.
Goddard had voiced his concerns on the standard of refereeing from the very first friendly against Thailand on May 16 2010, and yet he was not listened to.
Goddard was driving home after the Denmark game in Atteridgeville, Pretoria, when he received a phone call from a male who identified himself as Wilson Perumal.
Perumal told him that he had interfered with his plans and that, should it happen again, Goddard’s life would be in danger.
This was after referee Ibrahim Chaibou (from Niger) was replaced by South African official Matthew Dyer prior to kickoff.
Goddard reported the call to Kika, who advised him he would take care of it and get back to him.
Kika phoned back and told Goddard that he had managed to avoid a major incident with Football4U by allowing them to appoint Chaibou as the referee for the Nigeria versus North Korea friendly match (on June 6 2010 in Tembisa).
Kika told Goddard this was the best way to solve the death threat problem and, under duress, Goddard agreed.
Goddard was fired in 2010.
Lindela “Ace” Kika said he had a conversation with the man known as “Mohammad” (Jason Jo Lourdes) and he was told the Football4U company operated in South America, Africa and Asia, and that, apart from referee-exchange programmes, they also arranged tournaments.
Kika stated that Dennis Mumble told him to take “Mohammad” to see Safa CEO Leslie Sedibe.
He said that Sedibe then told him to go ahead with the agreement for four friendly warm-up matches.
Kika stated there were some issues that he discussed with “Mohammad”. He did not elaborate when asked what these issues were and said he could not recall.
After his discussion, “Mohammad” left Safa and a couple of days later, he received an email from Wilson Raj Perumal.
This email was received to his personal email address and not his Safa address.
This was to be the case with all emails between Kika and Perumal.
According to the Fifa report, Kika had a story to relate but the story was “devoid of detail” for a man who must have been involved in the day-to-day organisation of these matches and also because he had face-to-face conversations with “Mohammad”.
Although Fifa admitted that it cannot be said Kika was evasive during his interview, they felt his answers lacked depth and detail.
On October 7 2011, Mumble alerted Fifa to suspicions of match-fixing and asked Chris Eaton to investigate three of Bafana Bafana’s matches that took place prior to the 2010 World Cup.
The matches were:
» SA vs Thailand – It was felt the standard of refereeing was suspiciously poor during the match;
» SA vs Denmark – There were suspicions surrounding events that took place prior to kickoff and without proper notification of Safa staff members; and
» SA vs Zimbabwe – It was suspected that this match took place at very short notice and without proper notification to some Safa staff members.
Mumble stated that before he could implement changes within Safa, he needed to make sure the organisation was free of corruption.
He presented a signed agreement for four matches to the investigators.
It named specific matches for which Football4U would provide referees in agreement with Safa.
Leslie Sedibe’s signature was on this.
Mumble stated that, with hindsight, he believed Football4U was a fraudulent operation, and felt Safa staff and Ace Kika became involved because they were naive and saw an opportunity to find referees at no cost and have Safa referees gain international experience at the same time.
At the time of the matches, Mumble maintained he was not involved. He made a point of describing his poor relationship with Sedibe.
The Fifa investigators wrote that self-preservation played a major part in what Mumble told them in his interview and in the answers he gave to questions.