Leslie Sedibe, ex-SAFA CEO sues FIFA to clear name
Leslie Sedibe, former CEO of South Africa’s Football Association(SAFA) has ignored FIFA rule and gotten a court order to strip FiFA of all its South African assets and trademarks.
In a world first, and what could be seen as a precedent-setting court battle, North Gauteng High Court Judge Van der Westhuizen issued an attachment order in favour of Sedibe.
The judgment will force FIFA to hand over to Sedibe documents that could expose corruption and millions in kickbacks at the highest levels of government and the country’s local soccer authority.
The judgment also means FIFA will need to seek Sedibe’s permission to trade in South Africa until such a time as it successfully opposes the order.
Sedibe launched the court application to force FIFA to review and possibly overturn the five-year ban and fine it imposed on him after finding him guilty of unethical behaviour following investigations into match fixing in three friendlies ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
At the heart of his application to have FIFA’s trademarks attached is Sedibe’s request of the football body to grant him an opportunity to reopen its probe and grant him an opportunity to present evidence that could exonerate him from wrongdoing.
“The applicant is authorised to attach the trademarks owned, and/or in which the first respondent [FIFA] has a beneficial interest, and all trademarks controlled by the first respondent in terms of Section 41(2) of the Trademarks Act No. 194 of 1993 of the Republic of South Africa …” said Van der Westhuizen in his order on Wednesday.
Sedibe believes that the resistance to his crusade to clear his name is because some of the information that has been held back could lift the lid on an alleged $10m fee that was paid in the run-up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, that was apparently unaccounted for.
In 2015 South Africa was placed under investigation for alleged bribery during the adjudication of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
FIFA found that a $10m bribe was spirited away at Safa’s behest and re-emerged in a development fund in the Caribbean.
It is understood that law enforcement officials will now also be forced to investigate possible fraud and corruption at Safa relating to match fixing and alleged bribery ahead of the 2010 event.
Sedibe said he found no pleasure in litigating against FIFA, but was left with no option when it was clear that “the cloud they have hanging [over] my head is going nowhere”.
“They are doing this despite overwhelming evidence that they have flouted the law and their own regulations which state that I have the right to have an adverse decision reviewed in the event that new evidence emerges that can have a different outcome,” he said.
In a letter to Sedibe dated February 23 2018 FIFA’s Investigatory Chamber chairperson Maria Claudia Rojas expressly reminded him of FIFA statutes that prohibit members from seeking relief from the football body’s sanctions in “ordinary courts of law”.
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