Sportswear company Puma has withdrawn its contract from the South African Soccer Association (SAFA) following the national team’s match-fixing scandal.
Last December, a FIFA investigation found ‘compelling evidence’ that four South African friendlies had been fixed prior to their hosting of the 2010 World Cup.
Puma said it decided to terminate the contract with immediate effect because of the allegations, inappropriate responses from within the soccer organization and the suspension of senior officials.
Former SAFA president Kirsten Nematandani, who lost his post in last month’s elections, and four other officials were suspended last year before being reinstated a month later pending a further investigation.
The Africa Cup of Nations host this year, South Africa failed to qualify for the 2014 World Cup, becoming the first hosts to miss the next edition of the global tournament in 25 years.
While the country’s soccer has been in a tailspin since the Africa Cup of Nations victory in 1996, Puma blamed the 2010 games against Thailand, Bulgaria, Colombia and Guatemala as the primary reason for ending a deal that began two years ago and which was expected to run until 2018.
“Puma abides by a code of ethics in all areas of its business operations and expects its partners to adhere to the same values,” the organization said in a statement. “We would like to state that with notable exception to the issues in question, we enjoyed a good working relationship with the South African Soccer Federation and wish them well for the future.”
Meanwhile, American-born coach Bob Bradley will be with the Egyptian side for the return leg World Cup qualifier against Ghana next month.
The Ghanaians crushed the North Africans 6-1 in Kumasi last week, triggering calls for Bradley’s sacking.
The return leg takes place on November 19 in Cairo and the United States coach at the 2010 World Cup knows his team is in a big hole.
“The dream of going to the World Cup is what kept our team united for these two years,” said Bradley. “But we have seen that dream become nearly impossible. I say nearly impossible because the situation we have put ourselves in is a very difficult one. We know this and we feel this.”