The man Wilson Raj could not corrupt

This article is more than 12 months old

Former head of referees in South Africa blocks Wilson Raj's attempt at expanding his kelong cartel


He was offered bribes, received threats and was even told he would be eliminated.

All for challenging the influence of Wilson Raj Perumal, the kelong king.

Mr Steve Goddard, 67, is the former head of referees in South Africa.

Was he afraid?

He said: "I was not surprised. The fear (of being harmed) did cross my mind because I knew I was not dealing with an amateur.

"But I told myself I was doing the right thing."

What he did was to block Wilson's attempt at expanding his kelong cartel in South Africa.

In his e-book Kelong King, Wilson Raj, 48, described Mr Goddard as a "very obstinate old man" who proved to be a "big troublemaker". He even described his nemesis as a "limping old man with a stick".

In a grudging compliment, he wrote of Mr Goddard: "If it weren't for him, we would have been in cruise control in South Africa."

Back in 2010, Wilson Raj and his kelong cartel was attempting to fix pre-World Cup friendlies in South Africa. The World Cup was held there that year.

The New Paper first reported about this in November 2011.

To try to fix the matches, Wilson Raj needed match officials.

So he approached the South African Football Association (Safa) suggesting a referee-exchange programme in which his company, Football 4 U, would bear the cost of providing match officials for friendly matches.

Wilson Raj had claimed he wanted to give African referees exposure.


An associate of Wilson Raj offered Mr Goddard a 30,000 rands (S$3,600) bribe to be the face of Football 4 U's referee-exchange scam, said Mr Goddard.

But not only did the South African refuse the bribe, he went on to actively try to foil Wilson Raj's syndicate's plans.

In 2010, South Africa was to play Denmark in a friendly and Wilson Raj wanted to have his man officiate the match.

So he got the appointed official to pull out, citing illness.

When one of Wilson Raj's accomplices attempted to install the notoriously-crooked match official Ibrahim Chaibou as his replacement, Mr Goddard rushed to the stadium and replaced the "sick" referee with his own man.

Chaibou, and several matches he officiated, are now the subject of a Fifa investigation.

Wilson Raj himself had admitted in his letters to TNP that Chaibou, who is from Niger, was on his payroll for the 2010 friendly between a fake Togo team and Bahrain in Manama, Bahrain.


Mr Goddard was even threatened when he intervened after one of his match officials was replaced.

It happened when the South African Football Association replaced his referee with one of Wilson Raj's appointees for the match between Nigeria and North Korea.

Mr Goddard alerted a member of the Nigerian delegation, not knowing that he, too, had been "bought" by Wilson Raj.

The Kelong King said in his book: "I could see what Goddard was trying to do. He was hoping that the Nigerians would lodge a complaint so that he could replace my ref with his."

Enraged, Wilson Raj called Mr Goddard and threatened him.

In a Fifa report, Mr Goddard told Fifa security that Wilson Raj told him that he had "gone too far" and intimated that he would be "eliminated".


He was afraid, but he insisted he was not going to cave in.

Mr Goddard told TNP: "I was brought up in Yorkshire in England in a house attached to a Methodist Church.

"My grandfather was a soccer-loving man, but he also believed strongly in telling the truth."

Wilson Raj has always denied threatening Mr Goddard's life.

But the threat should have been investigated, said Mr Terry Steans, formerly from Fifa's security team.

He was one of two men who interviewed Mr Goddard in 2012.

Mr Steans said he felt the report he had put up warranted further investigation by an independent body or the police. But that did not happen.

Mr Steans said: "Because the outcome was left hanging in the air, the Safa administration has found it difficult to move forward and that's a shame for South African football."


While Wilson Raj is hoping to make money from his kelong book, Mr Goddard has lost his job.

He believes it is because he became a marked man.

Mr Goddard's contract as the South African Football Association's (Safa) head of referees was not renewed. He now works only on an assignment basis officiating second-tier matches in South Africa.

Said Mr Goddard: "It certainly taught me that telling the truth can cost you, both in financial terms and employment avenues. To a degree, I feel blacklisted.

"From my point of view, there are still corruptible people in Safa. Everyone else survived except me. I think that tells the story."

But the man who replaced him, Safa's referees' head Adeel Carelse, accused Mr Goddard of putting him in a spot when Fifa launched its investigation of the match-rigging in 2010.

According to media reports, Mr Carelse's name was mentioned as Fifa investigated Wilson Raj's cartel.

Mr Carelse told South Africa's In World of Sports last year: "He (Goddard) placed me in the line of fire and he did it deliberately because he was under the impression that if he cast enough aspersions on my character, I would be fired and he would walk back in here (at Safa) as the head of department."

The South African government had launched a judicial commission of inquiry into match-fixing allegations and Mr Carelse is hoping it will clear his name.

A Fifa report has since found "compelling evidence" that one or more friendly games involving South Africa were rigged.

Meanwhile, Safa said it had been "infiltrated" by Wilson Raj and his "bogus" football company Football Four U.

And what of Mr Goddard, one of a few men to say no to Wilson Raj?

"When the league in South Africa had problems with match-fixing in the 80s, I was never approached. I hope that this proves that not everyone is corruptible."

If it weren't for him, we would have been in cruise control in South Africa.

- Kelong King Wilson Raj on former head of referees in South Africa Steve Goddard