Sport’s dark side aises its head

As the torrent of tributes continued through a week of global mourning, underlining the selflessness of the late Nelson Mandela, a series of arrests in Britain bore testament to the venal mark of Cain that is the obverse side of the human condition.

Sport, an arena Madiba enthusiastically embraced, has produced some human feats as moving and majestic as any moon landing, as all-embracing and uplifting as any Einsteinian theory of relativity by their resonance in the workaday lives of the common citizen.

But the shrinking of the global village has also opened the portals to the baser side of athletic endeavour and hastened the growth of match-fixing across the spectrum of sport.

British football is the latest in a long line of arenas to feel the biting lash of the bookmaking scourge, which has left the inherent belief that sport is fought hard and square, bloodied and bowed.

South Africans still feel the pain of the international tempest unleashed in 2000 when the late Hansie Cronje made the admission to Ali Bacher on April 11 that he had not been “entirely honest” when denying allegations of corrupt practice made three days earlier by Indian police.

The game and the nation was scandalised. Cronje’s subsequent sacking as Proteas captain and a life ban from the game did little to lift the cloud.

Another dark cloud still hovers as soccer’s ruling body, Fifa, and our sports ministry bicker over how, where and by who the allegations of match-fixing in friendly games played by Bafana Bafana leading up to the 2010 World Cup will be investigated.

No single sport is immune. Russian tennis player Sergei Krotiouk was banned from the sport for life and fined $60 000 in June after he was found guilty of 41 charges relating to match-fixing during 2012 and 2013.

The endemic nature of sporting corruption seems entrenched – surely cause for mourning the end of


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