The South African Football Association (Safa) has officially filed a protest letter to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) on Monday following the controversial 2012 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifying ruling that eliminated Bafana Bafana, despite them finishing on top of Group G on goal difference based on article 37.5 interpretation of the regulations.
CAF invoked rule 14.1, which states that in case of equality of points between two or more teams, after all the group matches, a greater number of points obtained in the matches between the concerned teams will determine the group winner.
“We hereby declare a dispute with CAF, in terms of article 14.7 of CAF statues, regarding the provisions of the regulations due to their inconsistency with the Regulations of Fifa Competitions and their effect of promoting unfair competition, amongst other things.
“We are of the opinion that this particular rule should be thrown out because it defeats the traditional way of determining a log standing,” said Safa’s chief executive officer, Robin Petersen.
There is a legal precedent in South Africa were an appeal body rescinded unfair competition rules after the fact.
Safa admitted to knowing that they were well aware of rule 14.1 ahead of Saturday’s clash with Sierra Leone, but their interpretation of the rule differed from that of CAF. They interpreted “between” to mean between South Africa and each of the teams tied on points with them.
Based on that, it was the technical team’s thinking that Bafana Bafana only needed a draw to qualify; so they played for a draw in the closing stages of the match.
On a previous occasion when three teams were left on equal number of points, both interpretation yielded the same outcome and therefore there was no complaints.
This is the first time that three teams ended up with the same number of points and the two interpretations lead to a different ranking and it is the first time the rule is identified as unfair because in this instance, the team that performed the best got eliminated. — Sapa