BENONI, SOUTH AFRICA - MARCH 27,Kirsten Nematandani during the 2012 London Olympic Qualifier match between South Africa U/23 and Libya U/23 at Sinaba Stadium on March 27, 2011 in Benoni, South Africa Photo by Lefty Shivambu / Gallo Images

SWIFT and decisive action must be taken if any South African Football Association officials are found guilty of rigging matches for financial gain.

It’s the only way Safa can save face after a Fifa report implicated some of the organisation’s top officials in match fixing during Bafana Bafana’s warm- up matches leading up to the 2010 World Cup on home soil.

South African football has been rocked by many controversies in the last few years, but this latest one could bring Safa to its knees if not handled properly.

Top officials, including Safa president Kirsten Nematandani, were yesterday suspended after they were mentioned in the report, which reportedly linked them to the betting syndicate, Football4U.

Safa’s reputation has waned since the successful hosting of the World Cup two years ago.

There have been financial problems last month – the organisation announced a R56 million loss – and a lack of football development, while Bafana have slipped down to a lowly 84th place on the Fifa rankings, and have had four coaches since becoming the first host nation to be bundled out at the group stage of the World Cup two years ago.

The confidence in the people running the game in South Africa is at an all time low, and the match fixing scandal will only increase the mistrust among the soccer public.

Match fixing has become more prevalent in football in Europe over the last few years, and it seems to be spreading to Africa. It’s a huge business, with powerful networks wielding seductive amounts of money.

While no players have been implicated in the current scandal, it is only a matter of time before South Africa’s footballers become the target of bookmakers around the world.

Safa must act quickly, and with transparency, to bring those found guilty of rigging matches to justice.

The beautiful game, and all those who play it and follow it in South Africa, deserve nothing less than that. Match-fixing goes against the very essence of sport, and those found guilty of it should be banned for life.

It’s really as simple as that.