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FIFA bans ex-Nigeria football coach for match fixing1 min read

Siasia was also handed a fine of 50,000 US dollars

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FIFA on Friday banned former Nigeria Football Federation official Samson Siasia for life after the body’s ethics panel found him guilty of taking bribes in connection with match fixing. 

In a statement, the adjudicatory chamber of FIFA’s independent ethics committee said the probe targeting Siasia stemmed from a wider investigation involving Wilson Raj Perumal, who has confessed to international match-fixing.

The probe that began in February found Siasia “guilty of having accepted that he would receive bribes in relation to the manipulation of matches in violation of the FIFA Code of Ethics,” the statement said.

In addition to being banned from all football related activity for life, Siasia was also handed a fine of 50,000 Swiss francs ($50,000, 46,000 euros).

Siasia, a former striker, also briefly coached Nigeria’s men’s national football team. 

FIFA did not detail the nature of ties to Perumal, a Singaporean national who was arrested and jailed in Finland in 2011 for fixing top-tier football games there. 

Perumal later collaborated with match fixing investigators.

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Court in Nigeria drops corruption case against FA boss, 4 others

The football bosses had been facing a raft of accusations including over the alleged theft of $8.4 million paid by FIFA

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Court in Nigeria drops corruption case against FA bosses

A Nigerian court on Tuesday dropped a high-profile corruption case against football federation President Amaju Pinnick and four top officials after the authorities withdrew the charges. 

The football bosses had been facing a raft of accusations including over the alleged theft of $8.4 million paid by FIFA for Nigeria’s participation at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

Judge Ijeoma Ojukwu said she had “no choice” but to order the case ditched after the prosecution asked to drop some of the charges. 

READ: Anti-graft agency seizes NFF chiefs’ properties in Nigeria

The government in September dissolved the anti-corruption agency prosecuting the case over its own graft scandal.

The case had been repeatedly adjourned since the football officials were charged in May as they failed to answer summons to appear in court. 

The ruling on Tuesday is not the end of Pinnick’s troubles as he is facing another potential trial for graft. 

Last month, the authorities seized a dozen properties from senior officials of Nigeria’s top football body, including Pinnick, in a fresh corruption probe.

READ: Nigerian court orders arrest of four embattled FA officials

Anti-graft agents took over 12 properties — half belonging to Pinnick, including a property in London — in the latest investigation to target senior football bosses.

Pinnick has remained at the helm of Nigeria’s football governing body despite the graft allegations.

He was sacked as Vice-President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in July.

READ: Nigeria FA officials charged with corruption

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Southern Africa

Siya Kolisi: Trying For Greatness

The captaincy of sports teams all over the world is a big issue and a big deal.

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Siya Kolisi, captaincy of sports teams all over the world is a big issue and a big deal.

“Some people stop me in the street and others just come to the house to congratulate us on his achievement,” he said.

“It is unbelievable. The phone has also been ringing non-stop.”

Those were the words of Fezakele Kolisi after his son was appointed as the 61st captain of South Africa’s national rugby team, the Springboks. The captaincy of sports teams all over the world is a big issue and a big deal. Countless newspaper columns and hours of airtime are usually devoted to the role and the person holding the position.

If it is vacant, even more, media space is involved in discussing the implications of the vacancy and the possible candidates and eventually, the subsequent recipient. Take everything just described and multiply it by a million. The answer will give you a small insight into just how important the captaincy of the Springboks is to the people of South Africa. And how significant Siya Kolisi has become.

The story of South Africa is one which is well known throughout the world. A rich, beautiful, strategically located land with a proud African heritage. A nation whose land was stolen from its native peoples, who were subsequently enslaved and brutally worked to provide wealth and power for Dutch and British colonisers.

Siya Kolisi, captaincy of sports teams all over the world is a big issue and a big deal.
South Africa’s flanker Siya Kolisi (L) and South Africa’s fly-half Handre Pollard take part in a training session at Arcs Urayasu Park in Urayasu on October 30, 2019, ahead of their Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup final against England. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP)

These colonial masters created an abominable political and social system called apartheid. It was a policy that governed relations between the country’s white minority and nonwhite majority and sanctioned racial segregation and political and economic discrimination against nonwhites. It had existed for centuries but was formally started and enforced in 1948 after the National Party gained power.

Under apartheid, the sport was also divided along racial lines. In a South African society, rugby was long considered a white sport, soccer a black one. And like most other institutions in South Africa, the South African rugby bodies followed suit. There was:

  • The South African Rugby Board (SARB) for whites only
  • The South African Rugby Federation (SARF) for “coloureds” i.e. people considered to be of mixed race.
  • The South African Rugby Association (SARA) (originally the South African African Rugby Board) for blacks. There was also the South African Rugby Union (SARU), which was a non-racial body, with a considerable membership. However, only the SARB had any say in international tours, and they alone chose the national team.
Siya Kolisi, captaincy of sports teams all over the world is a big issue and a big deal.
South Africa’s flanker Siya Kolisi takes part in a training session at Arcs Urayasu Park in Urayasu on October 30, 2019, ahead of their Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup final against England. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP)

For over a century, the Springboks, as the national team of South Africa were known, were regarded as a symbol of white oppression of the native peoples of South Africa and a shining banner of the Apartheid policy. From 1891 when the first international was played, till 1995, the team did not have a single black player.

The world turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the racial discrimination in South Africa until 1976, when the Soweto riots attracted international condemnation and 28 countries boycotted the 1976 Summer Olympics in protest, and the next year, in 1977, the Commonwealth signed the Gleneagles Agreement, which discouraged any sporting contact with South Africa.

In response to the growing pressure, the segregated South African rugby unions merged in 1977. Four years later Errol Tobias would become the first non-white South African to represent his country when he took the field against Ireland. A planned 1979 Springbok tour of France was stopped by the French government, who announced that it was inappropriate for South African teams to tour France.

From 1990 to 1991 the legal apparatus of apartheid was abolished, and the Springboks were readmitted to international rugby in 1992. But things really began to look up after the country was awarded the hosting rights for the 1995 Rugby World Cup, and there was a remarkable surge of support for the Springboks among the white and black communities in the lead-up to the tournament.

The black people of South Africa really got behind the team winger Chester Williams was selected for the Springboks, the only non-white person on the entire team. Nicknamed “The Black Pearl”, Williams was selected in the initial squad but had to withdraw before the tournament began due to injury. He was later called back into the squad after another player was suspended for a brawl and played in the quarter-final, scoring four tries. He also featured in the semi-final win over France as well as in the final against New Zealand.

Siya Kolisi, captaincy of sports teams all over the world is a big issue and a big deal.

Nelson Mandela, who had taken office as South Africa’s first democratically elected president a year earlier, had embraced the Springboks — long a symbol of repression to most nonwhites — signalling that there was a place for white South Africans in the new order.

Wearing a Springboks jersey and cap, Mandela visited the players in the locker room before they took the field in the final where they defeated the All Blacks 15-12. The image of Madiba lifting the trophy with Francois Pienaar, the team’s Afrikaaner captain, at Johannesburg’s Ellis Park Stadium was a poignant one. But one that masked some still-festering racial sores in the country’s rugby fraternity.

Instead of the victory accelerating racial integration in the Springboks, things stagnated. Twelve years later when the team won their second World Cup, there were only two black players. But today, things are much different. In the starting XV that beat Wales in the semi-final of the 2019 Rugby World Cup, there were six black players: wingers S’busiso Nkosi and Makazole Mapimpi, centre Lukhanyo Am, prop Tendai Mtawarira, hooker Bongi Mbonambi, and captain Siya Kolisi. Of Rassie Erasmus’s squad of 31, 11 are black.

Kolisi represents a poignant bridge between the dark past and the brighter future of South Africa. Born on June 16 1991, one day before the repeal of apartheid, Kolisi has overcome a humble background in the poor township of Zwide, just outside Port Elizabeth on the Eastern Cape, where he was brought up by his grandmother, who cleaned kitchens to make ends meet. At the age of 12, he impressed scouts at a youth tournament in Mossel Bay and was offered a scholarship at Grey Junior in Port Elizabeth. He was subsequently offered a rugby scholarship to the prestigious Grey High School. But tragedy struck when he was 15 when his mother died and his grandmother shortly afterwards.

He made his Springbok debut on 15 June 2013 against Scotland at the Mbombela Stadium in Nelspruit becoming the 851st player in the history of the team. He replaced the injured Arno Botha in the 5th minute and was named as Man of the Match as his side won 30–17. 9 further substitute appearances followed during the 2013 international season as he firmly established himself as a regular member of the national squad.

Kolisi played two matches in the 2015 Rugby World Cup, against Japan and Samoa. He was selected as the new captain of the Springboks on 28 May 2018, becoming the team’s first black captain in its 127-year history. Bryan Habana, former Springbok and of mixed race, praised Kolisi’s appointment saying “It’s a monumental moment for South African rugby and a moment in South African history.” His appointment has been well received by all his teammates. Both white and black alike.

But despite everything he has achieved, Kolisi is still said to be very humble and grounded. “His story is unique,” Hanyani Shimange, former Springboks prop, told BBC Radio 5 Live’s Rugby Union Weekly podcast.

“Previous generations of black rugby players were not given the same opportunities, purely because of South Africa’s laws. He’s living the dream of people who weren’t given the same opportunities as him.

“He’s grabbed those opportunities. He’s a good man, a humble individual.

“He’s got a lot of time for people, probably too much time in some instances. But he’s the same Siya he was six years ago. He loves rugby, and the team loves him.”

Siya Kolisi, captaincy of sports teams all over the world is a big issue and a big deal.
South Africa’s flanker Siya Kolisi (L) and South Africa’s prop Frans Malherbe take part in a training session at Arcs Urayasu Park in Urayasu on October 30, 2019, ahead of their Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup final against England. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP)

Chester Williams died in September 2019 and his image was on the shirts the Springboks team wore for their 2019 World Cup opener against the All Blacks. This weekend, Kolisi will not need any reminding how much of a monumental occasion the World Cup final against England represents. His father Fezakele Kolisi will be in the crowd alongside 75,000 other fans. It will be the 50-year-old’s first trip outside South Africa and it could not come at a better time. Also in the crowd will be Cyril Ramaphosa, president of South Africa, who also grasps the significance of the occasion.

He has the chance to join Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki as the third president of The Rainbow Nation to lift the trophy. But this time is remarkably different. His predecessors were handed the iconic Webb Ellis Cup by Afrikaaners. If South Africa wins, the records will forever show that it was two black men who lifted the trophy together. One born just as apartheid died. And the other who fought alongside other heroes to end the apartheid abomination.

Kolisi stands on the brink of history. He has the chance to go where no black man in history has gone before. But he will not go alone. Not only will ten other black men go with him, not only will his entire thirty-one man team follow him, not only does he have his nation behind him, but the whole of Africa will also spur him on.

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Southern Africa

South Africa suspends three cricket top officials

Three top officials have been placed on suspension by Cricket South Africa

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South Africa suspends three cricket top officials
South Africa's captain Faf du Plessis (C) celebrates with teammates after India's Rohit Sharma has been dismissed during the second day of the third and final Test match between India and South Africa at the Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA) stadium in Ranchi on October 20, 2019. (Photo by Money SHARMA / AFP)

Cricket South Africa said Wednesday it had placed three top officials on “precautionary suspension”.

No names were given but South African media reported that they included Corrie van Zyl, the interim director of cricket, who was seen as a front-runner for the full-time role which holds responsibility for the national team.

The suspensions came less than two months before South Africa host England in a four-Test series, with the key positions of director of cricket and team director yet to be filled.

CSA said in a statement the suspensions were related to a dispute over unpaid fees to players following the Mzansi Super League T20 tournament last year. The 2019 version of the tournament starts on November 8.

The other officials reportedly suspended are chief operating officer Naasei Appiah and sponsorship head Clive Eksteen.

The suspensions came a week after the South African Cricketers’ Association (SACA), which represents professional players, declared a dispute with CSA over money it said was due to the players for commercial rights relating to the MSL 2018.

CSA said it was investigating whether the suspended officials were “derelict in fulfilling their duties” and that disciplinary action could follow. It said all fees due to the players would be paid to SACA immediately.

South Africa's Anrich Nortje reacts after losing to India at the end of the third and final Test match between India and South Africa
South Africa’s Anrich Nortje reacts after losing to India at the end of the third and final Test match between India and South Africa at the Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA) stadium in Ranchi on October 22, 2019. (Photo by Money SHARMA / AFP)

The latest upheavals come at a time when the national team appears to be in disarray. Ottis Gibson and his coaching staff were fired after a poor World Cup campaign and a new structure was announced, with a team director to be appointed who would report to the director of cricket.

Van Zyl, a long-time employee of CSA, was appointed an interim director of cricket and Enoch Nkwe was made appointed interim team director following a successful season as coach of the Lions franchise.

Nkwe was in charge of the team that suffered three heavy defeats in three Tests in India earlier this month.

Applications for the permanent posts close tomorrow. The first Test against England starts on December 26.

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