Cape Town – The South African Football Association (SAFA) has lauded the action of South African match officials who refused to be bribed ahead of an important CAF African Confederations Cup tie between Plateau United of Nigeria and Algeria’s USM Alger.
Referee Victor Gomes was approached to fix the result of the first-leg clash (United won 2-1) that took place this past weekend (Saturday, 7 April 7) in Nigeria, but instead reported the matter to the Confederation of African Football (CAF), who are investigating the issue.
“Our referees have conducted themselves impeccably well in the sense that they were able to identify and report the issue immediately to CAF for them to make further investigations on the matter. Because it was a CAF appointment, they wrote a report and sent it to them, and they (CAF) are dealing with it,” said SAFA’s Head of Referees, Tenda Masikhwa.
Gomes was in Lagos where he was assisted by Johannes Moshidi and Athenkosi Ndongeni, together with Thando Ndzandzeka, who was the fourth official. The 35-year-old said they were offered US$30 000 (R362 556) in cash but turned it down and immediately reported the matter to CAF.
Masikhwa says the honesty displayed by Gomes and company is partly because of the integrity workshops being conducted by SAFA throughout the country. Part of the integrity workshops is early detection of corrupt activities and reporting them to authorities without delay.
“Our officials showed the rest of the continent and the world that they won’t tolerate corruption within the game. We are proud of what they did and this is why South African referees are so much sought after and are highly regarded on the continent,” said Masikhwa as quoted by SAFA’s website.
“On 13-14 February this year, we held an Integrity Workshop in Sandton, Johannesburg where two FIFA representatives articulated the need to have honest and upright match officials; people of integrity within our game. What we see today are the fruits of that particular workshop,” added Masikhwa.
The SAFA head of referees said recently the association held a Youth Development Course for referees in Pretoria, and a SAB Skills Camp course for match officials.
He further stated that at every such SAFA workshop, there is an integrity session where SAFA Integrity Officer, Mlungisi Ncame, gives a talk on the need to maintain discipline and reject corruption.
“What Gomes and company did are the results of what SAFA has been doing all along in order to change the face of refereeing in South Africa and Africa in general – we are very proud of our officials,” he said.
“We hope that this will also be a lesson to other match officials who were not part of this Gomes team; that if ever anybody approaches them in future, this is the way the go – report the matter to authorities without delay.”