Fifa takes over Bafana match-fixing probe
SPORTS Minister Fikile Mbalula is headed for a bitter showdown with Fifa secretary general Jerome Valcke.
This comes after the Frenchman announced this week that the sport's governing body would take control of the long-running match-fixing investigation into the Bafana Bafana friendlies on the eve of the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
A seething Mbalula said he is shocked that Valcke did not ''have the courtesy" to inform President Jacob Zuma and himself first that former Federal Bureau of Investigations agent Michael Garcia would take over the investigation.
"Jerome Valcke must get it into his head that Fifa does not run this country," an irate Mbalula said.
"South Africa is a sovereign country and we will never allow ourselves to be usurped by Fifa. I hear through the grapevine he [Valcke] was in the country this week to distribute Legacy Trust money. He does not call me, and yet he is running around the country making announcements. He did not even have the guts to contact me."
Valcke attended a 2010 Fifa World Cup Legacy Trust board meeting in Johannesburg on Tuesday and told The Times before returning to Europe that Fifa would conduct their own probe into a saga that has dragged on for nearly a year.
"The result is the investigation on the match manipulation in South Africa will be done directly by the Fifa ethics committee," he said.
"Fifa will run the investigation and Fifa will take care of this file. Definitely we will need the support of the South African authorities but it will be managed by the chairman of this ethics committee, Michael Garcia. We are taking over this case and we are making sure that Fifa will run this investigation."
There is still no indication when Zuma will appoint a judicial commission of inquiry that the government said would investigate the alleged corruption.
Presidential spokesman Mac Maharaj has maintained over the past few months that Zuma is still applying his mind but was yet to set a date for the matter.
The Fifa officials have seemingly become exasperated by the slow pace of government action and have elected to take matters into their own hands.
Valcke said he did not know if Zuma would continue with his commission of inquiry after Garcia wrapped up his own investigation.
Mbalula said he could not understand why Fifa become impatient after agreeing at a meeting - attended by Valcke, Mbalula and former SA Football Association president Kirsten Nematandani - in Zurich in April that Zuma would be given more time.
Mbalula said Fifa should have said then that they had the capacity to investigate the match-fixing allegations as he would have saved the time he has wasted on the matter over the past few months.
Safa president Danny Jordaan could not be reached for comment.