‘SAFA Can Prove Match Manipulation’

Lorenz Kohler
November 16, 2021

The South African Football Association has compelling evidence in their appeal against the 1-0 defeat to Ghana in the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier, according to former FIFA referee Ace Ncobo.

SAFA confirmed on Monday that a complaint had been filed to FIFA and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) over Senegalese referee Maguette N’Diaye – for what they claim was an incident of match-fixing against them.

The award of Daniel Amartey’s dubious penalty against Rushine de Reuck – who was adjudged to have fouled the Premier League defender, was one of several decisions that have been highlighted in the case.

With Bafana forced into a replay against Senegal in the 2018 FIFA World Cup after initially winning 2-1, then losing en route to Senegal qualifying for the global showpiece, SAFA believes it sets a precedent for the current case, while Ncobo has further revealed that after studying the footage, there’s every chance the game could be replayed.

“To analyse the match, it took me five hours 17 minutes to analyse just the first half. I’m only doing the second half tomorrow because I got the footage this morning. And, you know, article 18 of the FIFA disciplinary code that speaks about manipulation of a match and we’ll put up those articles right now,” he said on Extra Time this week.

“Many people think that you can simply write to FIFA and say, no, this referee was poor, so let’s replay the match. No, it doesn’t work like that. You have to prove that the result of the match was manipulated by some way or the other.

“That’s what the FIFA disciplinary code says, that we have article 18.1, which says anyone who directly or indirectly by an act or an omission, which means by taking a decision or not taking a decision, unlawfully influences or manipulates the course, result or any other aspect of a match and/or competition or conspires to attempt to do so by any means shall be sanctioned with a minimum five-year ban on taking part, right.

“And then article 18.2, then speaks directly about match officials, if a player or official engages in behaviour that is described in paragraph, one where they unlawfully influence the result, then that’s where FIFA comes in and investigates. It’s not about poor performance.

“You know, in the report that I have, because I’ve already submitted the report for the first half to SAFA. In the report, I said, you can’t make a submission to FIFA and try and fight for a replay based on poor performance. Because if there’s poor performance, that’s not a problem, you can’t appeal. But how do you differentiate poor performance from manipulation?

“This is what I discovered when I analyzed them. This is just coming out of the first half. There was an average of one major incident per minute when major incidents, game-changing incidents, where the other team gains possession from whatever decision that has been taken, 45 major incidents in the first half, number of ignored or not seen.

“For whatever reason, I don’t want to speculate on the reason, that’s for SAFA to investigate, why there were 17 out of 45 major incidents, that the whistle was never blown. Now, the number of awarded out of the 45, only 28 were awarded, because the 17 were ignored.

“The number of spot-on decisions out of the 45 were 17. Now that tells you that only 37.8% of decisions made in the first half were correct. The number of incorrect decisions, 26 out of 45. You can never have a referee at that level, who has an error rate of almost 60%.

“But again, even at 60% you can’t appeal to FIFA and say no this match must be replayed. You must go further and analyze. Was there a pattern of bias? That is when we looked at the number of decisions that went against Bafana Bafana. 25 Out of the 28 that were given went against Bafana Bafana. 89.3% of incorrect decisions, leave out the correct decisions because they would have gone either way.

“And only 10.7% of the incorrect decisions were against the home team. And those 4.4% inconclusive were purely because of the poor quality of the footage that was received. But that’s insignificant. What’s more significant and the leg that SAFA can stand on is a pattern of bias.

“And when you can establish a pattern of bias because poor performance means that the referee had a 51%/49% incorrect decision when you look at the two teams, but 89.3% incorrect decisions against one team. There’s a pattern of bias and a pattern of bias equals manipulation of the result.

“And that’s the leg that SAFA can stand on. What the reason behind that pattern of bias is is not for me to say, I believe SAFA have got additional material that they have collected. There are specific issues relating to the awarding of penalties, and judging how the Bafana Bafana goalkeeper reacts to penalty kicks. Now how do you then anticipate that a penalty will be given?”

According to The Athletic, FIFA have confirmed they are currently reviewing the game after receiving the complaint from SAFA.

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