Thursday, November 21st, 2013
It may have been overshadowed by the drama of the World Cup play-offs on Tuesday evening but there was a momentous game taking place at Soccer City.
South Africa and Spain played an international friendly that both sides seemed to be eager to participate in.
The hosts went on to beat the World and European champions 1-0 thanks to a Bernard Parker goal and Spain appeared delighted to return to the scene of their triumph over Holland in the 2010 World Cup final.
However, a fairly unremarkable 90 minutes made headlines when Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes went down injured and could not continue with 15 minutes remaining.
Spain could not bring on a keeper as they had already used their allocation of six substitutes. Initially, Alvaro Arbeloa took over in goal to the glee of many watching who were keen on seeing an outfielder play in nets!
Cue negotiations on the touchline between the Spain coaching staff and FIFA delegate, Ayodele Anjorin Moucharafou from Benin who eventually allowed Pepe Reina to take over between the sticks.
There was consternation on the South Africa bench over the decision with Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund clearly showing his concern when Reina came on – see second video below.
But afterwards Spain boss Vicente Del Bosque praised FIFA and the “fair play” of the host team.
Subsequently, reports have emerged in both Spain and South Africa that FIFA are considering declaring the result null and void due to using the extra sub.
This does seem unlikely as there is precedent for this sort of affair. When England played Trinidad & Tobago in 2008, Fabio Capello used too many substitutes but it was still considered an official match.
For South Africa it would be a major blow to see this result cancelled, since they will jump around 20 places in the FIFA rankings and it is likely to help them find a new kit supplier, after recently losing PUMA.
Their worries are confirmed by South African Football Association (Safa) president Danny Jordaan coming out to dismiss the suggestions and he can be heard on the radio interview – see second clip below.