22 August 2018 – SAFA’s legal department has welcomed FIFA’s newest edition in their ethics code which makes defamation a serious offence that carries a harsh penalty.

On Tuesday, the world governing body, FIFA stressed that people who tarnish the reputation of others face the prospect of being banned from football if found guilty of such transgressions.

The new offence of defamation had been added to the code of conduct with scope for a ban of up to five years from football for the offender.

In providing context to the new code, FIFA says defamation was the act of communicating false information that harms the reputation of an individual or a group. The ethics committee would determine what constitutes false information.

“This is a watershed development. For a long time, some people have been getting away with murder after tarnishing the image of individuals or the Association in a bid to endear himself/herself with the public. That will now come to an end or else that individual who peddles false information will face the wrath of the law,” said SAFA legal officer, Adv Tebogo Motlanthe.

Adv Motlanthe said each and every SAFA Elective Congress was marred by unfounded mudslinging and this new rule will end this ugly practice.

“Whenever we go for the Elective Congress, people vying for positions use unpalatable language to denigrate their opponents and in most cases use false and derogatory language. This negative and defamatory campaign saw one of the candidates surviving an assassination in the last election; fortunately, the police stepped in on time and stopped what could have been a terrible tragedy.

“This is not fair play and FIFA is saying NO to this incorrect way of doing things,” added Adv Motlanthe.

“I want to take this opportunity to caution all those who rush to the media with false and defamatory accusations that you have been warned; the law will come down heavily on all offenders. What we witnessed during the last Elective Congress was wrong, bad for the game and should never be repeated again. We will not hesitate to ban the offending individuals and FIFA have given the green light to not only read the riot act but act ruthlessly against the offenders,” he said.

The world governing body said the new defamation offence exists in most legal systems.

“The world of football is not immune to conduct that aims to tarnish the reputations of others and (offenders) must be sanctioned accordingly.

“The article concerning defamation is not only there to protect FIFA but also to protect any other person covered by the code who may be subjected to discriminatory or defamatory statements in the context of FIFA events,” said the world governing body.