The Bafana Bafana will breathe a sigh of relief after learning that the world football governing body FIFA will still regard their 1-0 friendly win over world no.1 Spain as a full international, despite the champions exceeding the number of substitutions permitted for such a match.
Controversy had ensued during the match dubbed as “The Champions Are Coming” when Spain were allowed to bring on goalkeeper Pepe Reina for injured Barcelona shot-stopper Victor Valdes even though they had used up all six of the substitutions permitted to them.
Some perceived this as an ill-advised move which could lead to the downgrading of the match to a “practice match” as it went against the rules regarding full international friendlies, which allow a team no more than six substitutions during the game.
This certainly seemed to have crossed South Africa head coach Gordon Igesund’s mind as his concerted protests against the disputed substitution were dismissed by the match officials.
FIFA have however moved to allay these fears, saying that the hosts would not be punished as they complied with the set regulations as agreed to by both sides. FIFA also said that they decided to maintain the “A” international friendly status of the match as both sides had agreed on the conditions of the match and submitted the required documentation to attest to the same prior to the match.
“FIFA can confirm that the South Africa-Spain friendly match remains an 'A' international, despite the fact that Spain allegedly used more than the maximum of six substitutes that the laws of the game stipulate can be used for such a match.
“FIFA have taken into account that both teams had agreed on the conditions of the match and submitted the necessary documentation prior to the match in order for FIFA to confirm it as an “A” international,” FIFA added in a statement.
FIFA also confirmed that the results of the friendly would be factored into the world rankings for the month of November. The ruling will no doubt be welcome to the Bafana Bafana, who were on the cusp of being denied a famous, hard-earned victory over their much fancied opposition.
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