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South African sports minister Fikile Mbalula is on a collision course with world football governing body FIFA over how to handle a pre-2010 World Cup match-fixing scandal.
Mbalula wants an independent inquiry headed by a retired judge to delve into a FIFA report that claims four warm-up games involving Bafana Bafana (The Boys) were fixed by corrupt Kenyan, Nigerien and Togolese referees.
But the Zurich-based body feels this amounts to government interference — something it bitterly opposes — and believes the South African Football Association (SAFA) must investigate itself.
“SAFA approached us saying it wanted a judicial commission of inquiry. Now some mischievous people wrote to FIFA saying we are interfering. SAFA cannot be player and referee,” insisted Mbalula ahead of a visit to Zurich this week.
National football association president Kirsten Nematandani said: “The decision of the national executive committee is that we want an independent commission of inquiry.”
Nematandani was among five SAFA officials temporarily suspended after a FIFA report said convicted Singaporean match-fixer Wilson Perumal arranged friendlies against Thailand, Bulgaria, Guatemala and Colombia and chose the referees.
South Africa won three of the games and drew the other, and those against Guatemala and Colombia were marred by a series of dubious penalties awarded to the home team.