A World Cup qualifier between Ghana and South Africa has become the subject of criticism after reports surfaced that there may have been match-fixing involved. The Ghana Football Association (GFA) has issued a stern rebuke to those accusations and argued that there was no foul play in the game.
The allegations come from South Africa’s corner which claims that the GFA has made untrue claims regarding the integrity of a qualifier game which ended up with a contentious ruling by the referee, which cost Ghana its spot in the World Cup in 2022.
The GFA has responded by arguing that there was no evidence in the claims levied at its soccer team and that this should result in punitive action by FIFA, the game’s governing body worldwide.
The South African Football Association (SAFA) is not relenting, though, having reached out to FIFA and requested a disciplinary committee that could probe the matter further and establish whether there was match-fixing in the game.
Stakes Are High in Qualifier Game
The conflict is not borne out of mere animosity between the two countries. Rather, both teams were seeking to qualify for the Qatar 2022 World Cup which is almost here. South Africa’s team needed to avoid defeat and Ghana needed a single point victory to get enough points to qualify itself.
Evidently, both teams were playing to the best of their ability until the 32nd minute of the game when Ghana midfielder collapsed in the box after a brief contact with Rushine de Reuck, a South African defender. Ghana was awarded a penalty shot which it realized, prompting indignation in South Africa’s corner.
The game finished one-nil for Ghana which effectively dashed South Africa’s hopes of a qualifier and took Ghana to the Worlds.
Evidence of Match-Fixing?
While the situation is highly contentious, the truth is soccer often takes a turn for the worst. Referees may fail to identify a situation and without VAR technology present in each game, some decisions could end up on the wrong side given the facts.
Both South Africa and Ghana have a history with match-fixing, but the Senegalese referee ruling in the game, one Maguette N’Diaye seems to be clear of fault insofar as previous dubious cases transpired under his supervision. Whether this case constitutes “match-fixing” may be a decision best left with FIFA.