Bafana v Warriors match fixed?

HARARE - Following stunning revelations this week that South Africa’s pre-World Cup warm-up matches were fixed by an Asian betting syndicate linked to Zimbabwe, it has also emerged that Bafana’s friendly against the Warriors in the same period may well have been also influenced by the syndicate.

Bafana beat Zimbabwe 3-0 at Moses Mabhidha Stadium in Durban in January 2010 as South Africa prepared to host Africa’s first ever World Cup later that year.

South Africa on Monday suspended its football association president Kirsten Nematandani and other top officials following a report into match fixing involving the national team.

South African Football Association (Safa) president Kirsten Nematandani, new chief executive Dennis Mumble and its top refereeing officials were suspended indefinitely pending investigations.

Fifa, in a report, has alleged that 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 by convicted Singapore match fixer Wilson Raj Perumal and his Football 4U organisation.

“Raj and company were already based in South Africa some six to seven months before the tournament, so that game against Zimbabwe in Durban is also questionable,” said a Safa insider who spoke to the Daily News yesterday.

“Raj is opening up in prison; soon you will hear more revelations. When Zimbabwe’s probe started, people thought it was just speculation, a hatchet job to punish certain individuals. But it is emerging that this thing was deep in the trenches.

“The World Cup was hosted in a country which was already exposed to match-fixing. When people where busy preparing for the World Cup, Raj and his runners were quietly interacting with officials and players. That’s the kind of atmosphere which was created. When the tournament started, some teams were already infiltrated.”

The insider, however, said the magnitude of player involvement in South Africa’s fixing activities might not have been as deep as Zimbabwe’s. In South Africa, the syndicate is believed to have targeted administrators and referees.

“Most of the (South African) players were based abroad where they are well remunerated. To corrupt them was not easy,” said our source.

Between 2007 and 2009, Zimbabwean officials and national team players were paid huge sums of money by illegal Asian bookmakers to lose several invitational matches in the Far East for betting purposes.   

It has turned out that the same underground network of illegal bookmakers, which generate profits in excess of $600 million every year, also penetrated Africa’s richest nation, putting to rest the notion that Zimbabwe was a prime target due to the country’s well-documented economic woes.

 

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