2018 World Cup: South Africa consider replay appeal
South Africa may appeal against Fifa’s decision to order a replay of the World Cup qualifier against Senegal because of “match manipulation” by the referee.
South Africa beat Senegal 2-1 at home last November but match referee Joseph Lamptey has since been banned for life.
Neither South Africa nor Senegal are accused of any wrongdoing.
“We’re grappling for answers and asking Fifa for them before we decide whether to take the matter forward,” said South African FA lawyer Norman Arendse.
Arendse, who chairs the legal committee of the South African Football Association (Safa), says his organisation has never been advised by football’s world governing body how the match was fixed.
“Safa cannot accept (the game was manipulated) because we have got absolutely no details of the alleged manipulation, what the nature of it was and what it all involved,” he told BBC World Service’s Newsday programme.
“Is (the referee) just a corrupt individual? Was he bribed by a third party outside of the match to influence the outcome? We just don’t know.
“That is the most unpalatable thing for us – to accept an outcome to which we should have been party. We’ve never ever been called upon to put our side of the story in relation to the game.”
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In a letter to Safa, Fifa confirmed that ‘neither Safa nor the (Senegalese federation) are accused of any wrongdoing’.
In the past, certain international matches in Africa are believed to have been manipulated by gambling syndicates in the Far East.
In Polokwane, Ghanaian referee Lamptey handed South Africa a dubious penalty for a non-existent handball before allowing another goal to stand from a quickly-taken free-kick while he was ordering Senegalese players to retreat.
The decision to order the replay came after Lamptey’s appeal against a life ban handed to him by Fifa in March failed at the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Lamptey, who also officiated at the Rio Olympics last year, declined BBC Sport’s invitation to comment at the time of his original ban, which came about after a complaint from the Senegal Football Federation.
Arendse says Safa accepts that a replay would be fair if the World Cup qualifier was deliberately manipulated but says all Group D matches should be replayed were that to be the case.
“Surely fair play demands that you should order the replay of the entire group because as any football person will tell you, the outcome (of a game) – whether a draw, win or loss – will always determine your approach to the next game.”
Shorn of the win over Senegal, the points tally for South Africa – who lie bottom of Group D – would drop from four to one, so now trailing the third-placed Senegalese by four points.
Burkina Faso top the group with six points, just ahead of island nation Cape Verde on goal difference.
Fifa will decide on 14 September on the exact date for the replay, which will take place in the international window in November – one month before the 2018 World Cup draw.