By Andrew WarshawFebruary 7 - A series of warm up games immediately before South Africa hosted the 2010 World Cup were "probably" targeted by Asian illegal match fixing syndicates, according to a leading South African Football Association (SAFA) official.
Category: South Africa 2010
Published on Tuesday, 07 February 2012 10:29
The staggering allegations have been made by Lindile "Ace" Kika, SAFA's head of national teams, who has denied any personal wrongdoing but has pinpointed four matches – against Thailand, Bulgaria, Colombia and Guatemala – that were allegedly fixed by referees appointed by nefarious marketing group Football4U.
Football4U was controlled by Wilson Raj Perumal (pictured), the shadowy Singaporean jailed in Finland for match fixing and whose sentence is regarded by FIFA as a major breakthrough.
"These guys [Perumal and his organisation] approached us about a referees exchange programme," Kika was quoted as saying in newspaper reports.
"And to be honest, I did not think twice about it.
"I thought it was a good opportunity for our local referees to interact with other internationals."
The matches were played in May 2010, about a month before South Africa's opening World Cup game against Mexico on June 11 and were refereed by African officials organised by Football4U.
Exactly who gave the green light within SAFA for arranging the friendlies is a subject of some conjecture but Kika said: "[The referees'] names were on the FIFA list and that was confirmation for us that they could be trusted.
"However, their performance was below par in these games and we decided to make a change in the last game against Denmark."
The Thailand and Colombia matches were refereed by a Kenyan, the Bulgaria game by a Togolese.
The fourth match, in which Bafana Bafana beat Guatemala 5-0, was handled by a Niger referee who was set to take over the fifth and final friendly against Denmark until SAFA officials became suspicious.
"The Colombia game is the one that made us suspicious of these referees," Kika said.
"We believed the penalty [which handed Bafana Bafana a 2-1 win] given was a bit soft and unfair to our opponents."
The Zimbabwe Football Association last week identified Perumal in a 160-page report into alleged match fixing during tours to Asia from 2007-09.
Officials, players and coaches were accused of taking bribes from betting syndicates to fix up to 15 matches.
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