South African FA asks FIFA to probe Ghana tie

BY: Esther Lamiokor Mills
President of SAFA, Danny Jordaan
President of SAFA, Danny Jordaan

Following last Sunday's painful loss to the Black Stars of Ghana in the FIFA World Cup Qualifiers, the South African Football Association (SAFA) has disclosed that it has asked FIFA to investigate the match for alleged referee bias and suspected match manipulation.

Addressing a press briefing on Wednesday at SAFA House in Nasrec, Johannesburg, the president of SAFA, Danny Jordaan highlighted concerns over what he claimed were suspicious betting patterns on the match in which Ghana won courtesy of Andre Ayew's first-half penalty.

Mr Jordaan added that SAFA wants FIFA to investigate if there were betting spikes before the penalty which resulted in the only goal of the game.

He said the Association's independent expert referee, Andile Aldrin "Ace" Ncobo spent between 10 and 11 hours reviewing every decision made by the refereeing team led by Senegalese Referee Maguette Ndiaye that may have had an undue influence on the match before they filed their complaint to FIFA.

"Immediately upon the completion of the match at Cape Coast in Ghana, there was an outpouring of emotions in our country. I phoned the CEO who was with the match officials and I asked him to inform them that we are going to challenge the outcome of the match,” Jordaan stated.

“Specifically, we are concerned with certain decisions in the match, so we are asking for an investigation into match-manipulation in this match".

Betting

According to Mr Jordaan, SAFA also wants FIFA to investigate betting spikes before the penalty was awarded by Senegalese Referee Maguette Ndiaye against South Africa.

"We don't have the capacity to do that, so we have asked FIFA to do that".

Interest in match outside football

Mr Jordaan said SAFA had also seen reports from Ghana which suggested that there was a massive interest in the match outside of football.

He said although those reports could be an expression of patriotism, SAFA had asked FIFA to investigate those reports.

"You have seen the articles saying that if Ghana loses this match there will be major problems even for the President of the country and there was another one which said Ghana will get at least one penalty," he stressed.

Precedent

Mr Jordaan said SAFA wants FIFA to use its 2016 ruling when it ordered a replay of a World Cup qualifier after a penalty was awarded to the Bafana Bafana in a 2-1 win over Senegal.

"We were not convinced that there was integrity in the decision-making in this match and we want to place the matter before FIFA to make the final decision before they have a huge capacity for investigating this matter".

Hopeful of replay

Similarly, South Africa coach Hugo Broos called for a replay of the match.

He said he was sure the referee was biased against his team after the 15th minute and told his technical team that "Forget it, Ghana would win this game".

On his part, South Africa captain Ronwen Williams said he felt targeted before the game, alleging that the referee came to him and said that he would get booked if he wasted any time on the pitch.

The goalkeeper also questioned the actions of the ball boys after Ghana scored their goal, saying it was unusual to what they had experienced in previous qualifiers.

"When the referee comes to me before the game and says he is going to book me for time-wasting, I already feel targeted. Throughout the qualifiers, the ball boys did not have the ball in their hand. The balls were on the cones. But in this specific game, the ball boys had the balls in their hands, which was unheard of in these qualifiers. Whenever the ball would go out, they would restart very quickly and throw it back quickly. But the moment they scored, the ball boys disappeared, as you can imagine. It took long for the balls to get back and I wanted to speak to the referee to tell him that some of the balls are soft, but he did not want to hear anything about it. He said he would rather book me for time-wasting," Williams said.

"In the second half, the ball boys practically vanished. If you can watch the game again, you will see me running for balls and I think that's where the ref should have stamped his authority and sorted it out. Coming to their goalkeeper... the moment they scored the goal, he took so much time. Not once did I speak to him. I think he only got booked in the last few minutes. From the 32nd minute when we conceded, up until the 90th minute, he was wasting time and not once did he get reprimanded, whereas I was reprimanded before the game and before we conceded. I did not waste time, so I felt targeted already."