Former Safa CEO Leslie Sedibe gets Fifa assets in landmark attachment order

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The former Safa boss is suing Fifa for over R70 million for a case of defamation of character

Fédération Internationale de Football Association (Fifa) has been stripped of all its South African trademarks.

World football’s governing body are now forced to submit documents that could reportedly expose corruption and millions in kickbacks at the South African government and soccer authority.

This is after North Gauteng High Court Judge Van der Westhuizen has given an attachment order which favours former South African Football Association (Safa) chief executive offer Leslie Sedibe.

As a result, Fifa will have to ask for Sedibe's permission to operate in the country until they manage to oppose the order.

Sedibe’s court application to force Fifa to review and possibly change the five-year ban and fine it imposed on him was successful.

This was after he was found guilty of alleged unethical behaviour following investigations into match fixing in three friendlies ahead of the 2010 Fifa World Cup which was hosted by South Africa. 

Sedibe had asked Fifa to give him an opportunity to reopen its probe and grant him an opportunity to present evidence that would exonerate him from any wrongdoing.

When making his order, Van der Westhuizen said: "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." 

Furthermore, the court battle between Fifa and Sedibe saw former African National Congress (ANC) party veteran Winnie Madikizela-Mandela make a witness statement,

Sedibe reportedly secured it before Madikizela-Mandela passed away in April 2018 and the witness statement was used in court as evidence.

According to City Press   a recorded interview wherein Madikizela-Mandela agrees to testify for Sedibe was played in court. 

The report further reveals that the apartheid struggle veteran was surprised that South African football administrators were unwilling to support Sedibe.

Two years ago, South Africa was investigated for alleged bribery during the adjudication of the 2010 World Cup finals. 

It is believed that South Africa paid a US$10m bribe in exchange for votes to secure the right to host the tournament. 

Law enforcement officials could be forced to investigate possible fraud and corruption at Safa.

Speaking on City Press, Sedibe he 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.

Earlier this year, Fifa Investigatory Chamber chairperson Maria Claudia Rojas reminded Sedibe of the organization’s statutes that prohibit members from seeking relief from the football body's sanctions in "ordinary courts of law".

"We would like to point that as per art. 13 par. 2 of the FIFA code of ethics, persons bound by this code are obliged, inter alia, to respect FIFA's regulatory framework to the extent applicable to them. In this respect, we would like to refer you likewise to art. 59 par. 2 of the FIFA statutes, which prohibits the recourse to ordinary courts of law, unless specifically provided for in the FIFA regulations," said Rojas in her correspondence.

However, Van der Westhuizen authorised the sheriff of the court to immediately execute the court order and FIfa has been given 30 days to file its intention to oppose the application.
Sedibe has also launched a $5m (R71.3m) lawsuit against FIFA and he has made it clear that he will not be bullied by the organization.

"I was treated very unfairly by both Safa and FIFA. All my rights under the South African Constitution were violated by FIFA, which conducted a mockery of an investigation, whose outcome was already predetermined. But I have full confidence in our country's judicial system. I have faith in God and I have faith that the truth will finally come out and the real culprits will be exposed.

"All that I want is to clear my name and my reputation which has been severely tarnished by FIFA's tardiness and arrogance," said Sedibe.
 

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