Safa unlikely to pursue appeal after Fifa explains dismissal of Ghana match protest

05 January 2022 - 11:37 By Marc Strydom
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Safa CEO Tebogo Motlanthe.
Safa CEO Tebogo Motlanthe.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

It appears unlikely the SA Football Association (Safa) will take their complaint about the officiating of referee Maguette N'Diaye in their November 1-0 World Cup qualifying defeat to Ghana in Cape Coast any further.

A letter Safa received from Fifa this week details the reasoning for the global body’s disciplinary committee (DC) rejecting the complaint over the controversial handling of the match by N'Diaye.

Fifa’s letter indicates Safa did not pay the fee for a protest within a 24-hour deadline.

Safa CEO Tebogo Motlanthe is adamant there was a miscommunication as he says Safa did not lodge a protest with Fifa, but a complaint, for which Motlanthe said there is no deadline to pay a fee.

However, indications are Safa will not be able to support the cost of an appeal of Fifa’s decision at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas).

Safa’s reasoning in taking the complaint to Fifa, accompanied by ex-referee Andile “Ace” Ncobo’s damning report that 90.9% of incorrect decisions went against Bafana in the qualifier, was that the global body would use its resources to investigate further. It is unlikely, barring funding a considerable and costly investigation that may or may not find concrete evidence of match manipulation, that an appeal to Cas by Safa would be successful without such proof in hand.

Safa, however, is likely to meet public criticism for lodging a protest and not meeting a deadline to pay the fee for it.

Motlanthe is adamant Safa’s documentation to Fifa was for a complaint, and not a protest.

“I am a lawyer and you know in football you cannot protest a referee’s decisions,” Motlanthe said on Wednesday morning.

“We made a complaint in line with Article 105, and if you read their letter you will see from the beginning we were consistent. We were not protesting, we asked, ‘Investigate the game because we think the referee has determined the outcome of the game’.

“They [Fifa] recorded it as a protest. We don’t know why.”

Fifa's letter to Safa, sent on Monday, does note the match commissioner recorded that “'the South Africans have lodged a complaint that they want the match to be investigated”.

Fifa’s letter lays out that a protest must be made “within 24 hours of the end of the match in question” and a “protest fee is CHF 1,000 (R17,500) that must be paid when the protest is lodged”.

It adds: “The Ghana Football Association argued that no written protest was submitted to the match commissioner, the protest was not lodged in a timely manner and no protest fee had been paid.”

Fifa’s letter states: “The disciplinary committee acknowledged that when lodging the protest before the DC, Safa indicated it would ‘pay the protest fee within 72 hours’.”

The letter said the “proof of payment provided by Safa” indicated “the protest fee appeared to have been paid on November 19”, five days after the match.

“The protest fee must be paid ‘when the protest is lodged’ (art. 46 (3) FDC), in other words ‘within 24 hours of the end of the match in question’ (art. 46 (1) FDC)’.

“Consistently with the above, the committee was satisfied  Safa failed to pay the protest fee within the 24-hour time limit.

“As a matter of fact, such payment was made on November 19 only, in other words more than 96 hours after the end of the match, thus undoubtedly outside the deadlines foreseen under art. 46 FDC. 41.

“In view of the foregoing, the committee pointed out that, as the protest fee had not been paid in a timely manner, the third (cumulative) procedural requirement for a protest to be admissible was also not met.

“In conclusion, the committee affirmed that two out of the three conditions for a protest to be admissible from a procedural perspective had not been met.

“As such, the committee stressed it had no other option but to consider the protest to be inadmissible.”

Ghana’s win on November 14 saw them top Group G level on 13 points and goal difference with SA, but with more goals scored, and progress to the final, single-tie round of qualifying for Qatar 2022.

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