KEMPTON PARK, SOUTH AFRICA - NOVEMBER 23, President of the South African Football Association (SAFA), Mr. Kirsten Nematandani during the South African U23 farewell greeting at the Holiday Inn Garden Court on November 23, 2011 in Kempton Park, South Africa. The team will participate in the inaugural CAF U23 Championships. Photo by Lee Warren / Gallo Images

Johannesburg – The 14 member countries of the Council of Southern African Football Associations (Cosafa) completed what was termed a “positive” two-day workshop in Kempton Park on Saturday afternoon, aimed at fighting match fixing and corruption in soccer in the region.

“The main thing is it got people together to tackle the problem jointly,” said SA Football Association (Safa) president Kirsten Nematandani, who delivered the keynote address.

The workshop was part of a worldwide Fifa-Interpol initiative to eradicate criminal acitivity in sport and was attended by the game's administrators, players' representatives, betting regulators and various law enforcement units.

“I believe we are making good progress and matters are moving in the right direction, but at the same time I believe it would be wrong to cast a blind eye to the problem and pretend it does not exist,” said Nematandani.

One of the major obstacles to overcome, according to Nematandani, was that the fraudulant betting syndicates who made it their business to organise match fixing often had their bases thousands of kilometres away from the games – with Asia, in particular, prevelant in this respect.

As far as the Cosafa countries were concerned, Nematandani said match fixing had been uncovered in the larger associations, namely Zimbabwe, where an epidemic had emerged a couple of years ago, Zambia and South Africa on a lesser scale.

“If the problems in Zimbabwe had been revealed sooner and united action taken, instead of a scourge of silence prevailing, the matter could have been sorted out sooner and with less damage caused,” Nematandani said.

Interpol secretary general Ronald Noble said it was vital that law enforcement groups presented a united front in fighting match fixing and corruption.

“Everyone involved, from the rank-and-file officials at the bottom of the scale to the millionaire stars on the pitch, (must be) made aware of the implications of the affliction,” Noble said. – Sapa