CAPE TOWN, South Africa –The former assistant coach of South Africa was sentenced to three years in prison on Tuesday in what prosecutors called the country’s first successful case against match-fixing.
Phil Setshedi was sentenced after he offered a man he thought was a referee 2,000 rand ($220) to fix the outcome of a lower league promotion playoff in 2011. The man posing as the referee at the meeting in Cape Town was an undercover police officer.
South Africa’s National Prosecuting Agency said Setshedi received three years in prison with another five years suspended after he was found guilty of corruption in a special commercial crimes court in December. The NPA also said it was South Africa’s first conviction and sentencing for match-fixing in football.
At least one game involving South Africa in the buildup to the 2010 World Cup — which the country hosted — is also under suspicion for match-fixing, although that has no connection to the Setshedi case.
As well as the Setshedi case, the South African Football Association was also set for an uncomfortable investigation at the highest levels of the sport after a report from world body FIFA indicated the 2010 World Cup warm-up could have been fixed.
SAFA briefly suspended some of its own officials — including the president — late last year and said it would undertake a “rigorous investigation” after allegations that federation officials had connections to match-fixing syndicates.
Football is reeling from claims of widespread fixing after the European Union’s police agency said last week that organized crime gangs had fixed or attempted to fix nearly 700 games across the world for illegal betting markets in the last 18 months.
Setshedi was a former assistant coach of Bafana Bafana, and was also a captain and coaching staff member of Johannesburg team the Orlando Pirates, one of South Africa’s biggest clubs.
The NPA said Setshedi intended to fix two playoff games in June 2011, promising the undercover policeman posing as a referee more money for a fix in a second match if the first went as planned. The person who sent Setshedi to fix the games was “unknown,” the national prosecutors said.
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