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FIFA 'may downgrade SA vs. Spain'

November 22, 2013
By Dermot Corrigan, Spain Correspondent,

The South African FA is confident that Wednesday's 1-0 friendly win over Spain will be allowed to stand, amid reports that FIFA are considering downgrading the match due to La Roja using too many substitutes.

Gordon Igesund was initially unhappy with Spain wanting to introduce a seventh sub in place of Valdes.
GettyImagesIgesund argued with officials when the decision was made to allow a seventh substitute.

Blatter meets Pope Francis

An otherwise drab encounter was enlivened by a second-half touchline row, when Spain tried to replace injured goalkeeper Victor Valdes even though they had already made their regulation six changes.

Bafana Bafana coach Gordon Igesund objected, leading to a heated argument with the visitors' assistant boss Toni Grande and substitute Pepe Reina. In the end FIFA delegate Ayodele Anjorin Moucharafou from Benin gave permission for the seventh change, Lesotho referee William Koto did not object, and Reina played the final quarter hour of the game.

The case did not end there however, with South African media sources claiming FIFA were unhappy and planned to reclassify the fixture as an exhibition, meaning that official ranking points would not be awarded, nor appearances recognised as official caps.

But South African Football Association (SAFA) president Danny Jordaan told Goal.com that although he had not received official confirmation he was optimistic the result would stand and his team keep the ranking points -- around 500 -- they had earned.

"Our win against Spain will stand," Jordaan said. "As far as we know, Bafana were not at fault in that particular game and therefore we cannot be penalised for it. We will wait for confirmation from FIFA, but we have a strong case."

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque attempted to play down the issue after the match by thanking their South African hosts for showing 'Fair Play', while Igesund, perhaps as his side had held on for the win, did not stress the point too far at his postmatch news conference.

Speaking back in Madrid on Thursday, Spain captain Iker Casillas said he felt his side had done nothing wrong, and any blame for what happened should go to the FIFA delegate who allowed the world champions to make the extra change.

"I believe we were correct," Casillas said. "In no moment was there anything wrong. [Valdes' injury] was something unfortunate. It is not a game when both teams are playing for their lives. I understand that for South Africa to play against Spain is something special. If they say at the FIFA table that you can play, and then later they cancel it, the responsibility is not ours but with the person who authorised the change."

In 2008 then England manager Fabio Capello mistakenly made seven substitutions in a friendly in Trinidad and Tobago, believing he had permission, but after a public debate FIFA allowed the result to stand and it remains the day that  Joe Hart and Phil Jagielka made their official England debuts. 

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