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South Africa back down from challenging ruling to replay World Cup qualifier


September 13 – After expressing serious reservations about the ruling, South African football chiefs have decided not to launch an appeal against FIFA’s order to replay last year’s World Cup qualifier against Senegal because of corrupt officiating.

South Africa’s Football Association (SAFA) held emergency talks on Monday but has now climbed down and agreed to the replay “on ethical and moral grounds”.

The encounter last November, won 2-1 by South Africa, saw referee Joseph Lamptey award the South Africans a penalty in a move FIFA ruled amounted to “match manipulation”. Lamptey has since been banned for life.

Explaining why they changed course, a SAFA statement said: “Following additional information SAFA received from world governing body FIFA, the Association resolved on moral and ethical grounds that we cannot be beneficiaries of corrupt activities.

“Therefore, we have decided that we will comply with the FIFA directive to replay the match against Senegal at a date to be decided.”

However, SAFA said it would still appeal should the referee’s ban be overturned.

“We have however, noted that the official at the centre of all this controversy has appealed his case to the courts of law and if the courts overturn the decision, everything becomes null and void and SAFA will reserve its right to challenge the decision of FIFA to replay the match,” the statement added.

“During the SAFA Emergency Committee meeting on Monday, there were two positions on the matter – whether to go the legal route since there are lots of unanswered questions from FIFA or the ethical and moral route.

“SAFA’s zero tolerance on corrupt activities within football are well documented and it is in this light that we decided to comply with the FIFA directive.”

The upshot is that South Africa are now bottom of Group D with a single point from three matches and now trail third-placed Senegal by four points with only the group winners qualifying for the World Cup in Russia.

FIFA will decide on September 14 on the exact date for the replay, which will take place in the international window in November – one month before the 2018 World Cup draw.

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