FIFA bans referee for match-fixing as South African football lurches into crisis

The world football’s governing body, FIFA, has banned Ghanaian referee Joseph Lamptey for life following his part in manipulating the outcome of South Africa’s World Cup 2018 qualifying win over Senegal in November 2016.

These latest developments have put South African football in further turmoil as it is already reeling under allegations of corruption and fixing of matches.

The Bafana Bafana shocked Senegal 2–1 in Polokwane in the second round of qualifying matches last November, but both their goals were scored under controversial circumstances. Their first goal resulted from a soft penalty for handball, while the second was scored following a quickly taken free-kick.

A statement on FIFA’s official website read: “The FIFA Disciplinary Committee has decided to ban the Ghanaian match official Joseph Odartei Lamptey from taking part in any kind of football-related activity (administrative, sports or any other) at national and international level for life.

The official was found guilty of breaching art. 69 par. 1 (unlawfully influencing match results) of the FIFA Disciplinary Code during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ qualifying match between South Africa and Senegal on 12 November 2016.

The issue of who were the people behind referee Lamptey’s unlawful influencing of the game is yet to be addressed. FIFA, in its statement, has left the door open for further information to be provided on the doctored match in due course.

Further information concerning the South Africa v. Senegal match in question will be provided once the decision becomes final and binding.

According to Reuters, irregular betting activity helped take the lid off and aid FIFA’s clampdown on the match-fixing affair.

South Africa sit currently second in their qualification group for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, behind Burkina Faso on goal difference but ahead of Senegal by a point. They will face Guinea-Bissau and Angola in two friendlies during the ongoing international break.

The decision by FIFA has compounded the problems the South African Football Association (SAFA) is facing. While the country’s governing body of football hasn’t responded to the latest match-fixing allegations, it is already under the scanner for various shady acts in the past.

Among those include the charges of a $10 million bribe the country paid to former FIFA vice president Jack Warner to help secure the rights to host the 2010 World Cup.

Furthermore, a post-2010 World Cup investigation found South African football officials guilty of manipulating the Bafana Bafana’s pre-World Cup friendlies after the officials were duped into using referees paid by a Singapore-based betting syndicate. This affair resulted in various South African officials, including a former SAFA president, being banned by FIFA.

South Africa’s qualification campaign for the 2018 World Cup in Russia has now been jeopardised following the recent revelations. They failed to qualify for the 2014 Brazil World Cup, and their hopes of making it into only their fourth finals in 2018 look to have suffered a blow.

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