South Africa’s petition to FIFA over alleged match-fixing in game against Ghana is an exercise in futility

Football, as ever, has always been a simple sport. Score goals, defend well, and hope to emerge winners at the end of 90 exhausting minutes. Sometimes games are won, other times they are lost, perhaps a few may even end in a stalemate and the cycle continues.

South Africa’s petition to FIFA about alleged match-fixing in game against Ghana is an exercise in futility

Indeed, the inherent power of football has always been its purest ability to unite the masses, to heal a broken nation, to bring together diverse people with varying cultures, and even to forge bonds and connections which otherwise may have been impossible.

And so when South Africa’s FA boss, Danny Jordaan, said in a press conference that, “this match was a very decisive match where Ghana only had one option but to win,” and went on to say, “if Ghana loses this, there will be major socio-economic problems even for the President of the country,” it felt as though he was pressing a button which didn’t exist, beginning a journey without a destination.

In all Danny Jordaan’s furious attempts to render Ghana’s slim 1-0 triumph over South Africa on the eve of Sunday null and void, empty and immoral, it felt as though he was pressing a button which didn’t exist and beginning a journey without a real destination.

On Wednesday afternoon, the FA of South Africa held a press conference to bring to light behaviours suggesting the results of the game had long been manipulated.

Danny Jordaan went on to mention a betting spike few minutes before the Black Stars were awarded a penalty and insisted, “when you know you will get a penalty in the 10th minute, there is a betting spike just before the penalty is given and if that happens and the penalty coincides with the decision then you will know that there is a possibility of cheating.

Because how is it that there is a betting spike just before there is a major decision taken? Because they knew when to bet and the time to stake that bet.”

Perhaps, the FA president of South Africa isn’t so familiar with and well versed in the basic concept of live betting. Perhaps, to a certain telling extent, the pain of defeat has clouded his judgement a little too much and now every innocuous activity appears to him as a sort of conspiracy to halt and tear down Bafana Bafana.

And really, broadly speaking, what are the chances that a penalty to be awarded at a predetermined time will actually be given at that exact time?

As if awarding a penalty is something you do in a vacuum, independent of the action that is actually taking place on the pitch, independent of which area of the turf the ball spins and flies. As if awarding a penalty is a simple human act, one which could be taken at the whim of any given centre referee who has been promised all the nice things of life.

As a corner was floated into South Africa’s penalty box and it bounced off Daniel Amartey who then readied himself to shoot, he was brought to ground. Rushine De Reuck, the South African defender who conceded that damning penalty, had tugged at Daniel Amartey’s arm before letting go of the Leicester City man the very second he had lost his bearing and balance, slumping on to the green Cape Coast grass. Centre referee of the game, Senegal’s Maguette Ndiaye, was right at the spot to award a penalty.

“I felt the opportunity to get a good result was taken away,” Rushine De Reuck said on Wednesday afternoon in a press conference adding, “the decisions that were made, it felt like the game was rehearsed – from the referees to the ball boys. [But] we continued to fight.”

To carefully consider Rushine’s remarks is to see a footballer struggling to come to terms with the cold reality of defeat, especially when they were on the brink of booking a place in the playoffs.

At times this is what defeat does to you. A dream is suddenly shattered, a door closed, and millions of hopes back home broken. So why won’t Rushine De Reuck blame everyone and everything, why won’t he point a finger?

Ace Ncobo, a former referee hired by the South Africa Football Association(SAFA) to investigate the match, told of how there was a deluge of incorrect calls from the centre referee in the first-half. Taking him a total of 5hrs and 7mins to review that particular half where manipulation was rife.

Meanwhile, in shocking reports emerging from South Africa, a Ghanaian barber has given up the ghost, has been stabbed to death for an alleged crime he did not commit, made to atone for an alleged sin he did not partake in. So it poses a simple question: what impression, with all the rules of logic at play, does this give about South Africans?

“I have not spoken to him on this matter. He is the president of CAF, we have placed our matter before FIFA,” SAFA president Danny Jordaan said when quizzed on whether or not he will harness the influence of CAF president Patrice Motsepe, also a South African, in their attempt to get FIFA to call for a rematch. Perhaps Danny Jordaan is telling the unadulterated truth, perhaps.

Football, as ever, has always been a simple sport. Score goals, defend well, and hope to emerge winners at the end of 90 exhausting minutes. When you win, there’s usually excitement and ecstasy, a draw could be good or bad depending on the context, and defeats are always excruciating. Great sportsmanship is learning to cope well even in shattering defeats. Perhaps that’s a lesson for everyone, especially South Africa.

By Bright Antwi

Pulse Contributors is an initiative to highlight diverse journalistic voices. Pulse Contributors do not represent the company Pulse and contribute on their own behalf.

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