Leslie Sedibe gains little from court success against FIFA

Former SAFA CEO Leslie Sedibe is fighting hard to have his name cleared Getty Images

Former South African Football Association CEO Leslie Sedibe gained a logo, but not much else in his victory over FIFA in the North Gauteng High Court last week, as he seeks to overturn his five-year ban from football and clear his name.

Sedibe has had success in winning permission to use FIFA's assets and trademarks in South Africa, pending a 30-day period for FIFA to appeal. But in reality all this relates to is any logos used during the 2010 World Cup -- a tournament now long forgotten -- and with trademarks that hold no commercial value.

Of more significance is the fact that SAFA reportedly has been ordered to hand over documents requested by Sedibe in his bid to clear his name, which likely relate to the pre-World Cup friendly matches for Bafana Bafana that were tainted by allegations of match-fixing.

Sedibe was banned by FIFA's Independent Ethics Committee for five years in 2016 for his role in the hosting of those games with the company run by convicted match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumal.

He was found guilty of infringing article 13 (General rules of conduct), article 15 (Loyalty), and article 18 (Duty of disclosure, cooperation and reporting) of the FIFA Code of Ethics.

Sedibe claims documentation was withheld from him by SAFA at the time of the investigation, and that he was not given a fair chance to give his side of the story to FIFA before they delivered their verdict. But whether SAFA still has these documents is the question, given that by law they need only keep them for five years.

Insiders have told KweséESPN they very much doubt SAFA still has the paperwork that Sedibe, a qualified attorney, is seeking.

It also is understood that neither FIFA nor SAFA opposed the court action brought by Sedibe, which suggests they do not view the matter with much concern.

At the heart of the issue is Sedibe's desire to have his name cleared, while he also seeking compensation for defamation of character, having last year served FIFA president Gianni Infantino with a letter of demand for $5-million.

But ultimately pursuing the matter through the South African courts is likely to be futile; if Sedibe is serious about clearing his name, he needs to engage FIFA through the legal system in Switzerland. But that obviously comes at a much greater cost.

The matter is perhaps also further complicated by the fact that the head of FIFA's legal division, Marco Villiger, resigned last week. He would have been a key figure in understanding the process taken to find Sedibe guilty.

SAFA spokesman Dominic Chimhavi says they are still studying the judgement and its ramifications.

"The whole story doesn't make sense to us, so we must review it to see what it means," Chimhavi told KweséESPN on Monday.

FIFA did not reply to a request for comment at the time of writing.

"I was treated very unfairly by both Safa and FIFA," Sedibe was quoted as saying by City Press on Sunday. "All my rights under the South African Constitution were violated by FIFA, which conducted a mockery of an investigation, whose outcome was already predetermined.

"But I have full confidence in our country's judicial system. I have faith in God and I have faith that the truth will finally come out and the real culprits will be exposed. All that I want is to clear my name and my reputation which has been severely tarnished by FIFA's tardiness and arrogance."

Sedibe left his post as SAFA CEO in February 2011 after a little over a year in the job.

Bafana played a number of friendlies prior to the World Cup in 2010, the results of which have since been cast into doubt over allegations of match-fixing.

Perumal detailed in his 2014 book 'Kelong Kings', written with investigative journalists Alessandro Righi and Emanuele Piano, how he had arranged the match officials for the Bafana friendlies in conjunction with SAFA.

Some of these officials were then paid to fix the outcome of the games, including Bafana's record 5-0 win over Guatemala and a 4-0 success over Thailand.

Former SAFA official Lindile 'Ace' Kika was banned for six years in October 2015 for his role in the scandal, while former officials Steve Goddard and Adeel Carelse received bans of two years each.