Downs short on humour over ref 'joke'

Mamelodi Sundowns

This after news today that the Directorate of Priority Crimes Investigation (The Hawks) have arrested a member of the Safa Panel of Referees for alleged match-fixing.

Shortly before the second half of Sundowns’ match against Ajax on September 20, Mfiki allegedly joked with fourth official Naasif Julius: “Are you with us or with Sundowns?”

Mfiki was apparently referring to the blue top Julius was wearing.

The remark was overheard by Sundowns team doctor Paul Maphoto and assistant coach Alex Bapela.

“Mamelodi Sundowns requested Safa to ask  the referee Mr Mfiki to explain what he meant when he said to the fourth official Mr Julius ‘are you with us or with Sundowns?’,” a statement on Sundowns website reads.

Safa responded to the complaint and advised Sundowns that they had obtained statements from Mfiki Julius, in which then two confirmed the conversation.

“Mr Mfiki alleged that he had made the statement as a joke and that he was referring to the blue top that the fourth official was wearing. He claimed that Mamelodi Sundowns assistant coach Mr Alex Bapela also heard the remark and joined in the ‘banter’,” Sundowns statement reads.

Bapela, despite finding the remark “shocking”, apparently, according to Sundowns, “responded instinctively to indicate to the referee that he had heard what the referee said to the fourth official by saying: ‘He is with us’.”

Sundowns have forwarded Bapela’s statement to Safa.

The Brazilians drew 2-2 with Ajax in the match, after conceding a penalty when Alje Schut was adjudged to have brought down Nathan Paulse. Replays showed a clear dive from the Ajax striker.

“Mamelodi Sundowns has on numerous occasions in the past received complaints from its supporters and other stakeholders about the officiating by certain match officials of PSL games involving the club,” Sundowns statement continues.

“Our starting point is that match officials are impartial and fair and officiate PSL games as best they can.

“Mamelodi Sundowns also accepts that match officials are human and that mistakes will be made in good faith and that these errors of judgment or decisions does not change our view of the impartiality or fairness of the match officials.”