Sapa

Interpol has been called in to help with a criminal investigation into the match-fixing scandal involving the South African Football Association (Safa), the Hawks said yesterday.

“There are individuals of interest who are abroad, who we are interested in going to in order to get to the bottom of this case,” said Hawks spokesman Paul Ramaloko, explaining Interpol’s involvement.

This week, Safa suspended its president, Kirsten Nematandani, and four senior administrators after the release of a report by Fifa, the international governing body.

It alleged that match-fixing had taken place in relation to warm-up games played before the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament.

Ramaloko said the Hawks investigation into the matter began after a case of corruption was registered on Tuesday.

“The investigation is at an early stage,” said Ramaloko. Nevertheless, “individuals of interest” had already been identified.

While the monetary figure involved in the alleged match-fixing could not be confirmed, the corruption case was being investigated in terms of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, said Ramaloko.

“Section 15 of the act is about the sporting fraternity. If any element of match-fixing is picked up, we will be looking at any contravention of this act.”

Fifa handed over the report about alleged match-fixing to Safa last week.

Subsequently, it was announced that Nematandani; Safa’s chief operations officer and interim chief executive, Dennis Mumble; the head of referees, Adeel Carelse; head of national teams Lindile Kika; and the former head of national teams Barney Kujane would take a voluntary leave of absence after their names were mentioned in the Fifa report.

They would all give evidence in a commission of inquiry that was to be set up.

Safa said it had apologised to Fifa after “compelling evidence” had been found that the results of World Cup warm-up matches had been fixed.

The report was completed by the global body’s former head of security, Chris Eaton, after it emerged that a bogus football development company, Football 4U, provided referees for the warm-up matches.The company was found to be a front for an Asian betting syndicate headed by Wilson Raj Perumal, who had been convicted of match-fixing.