Adeel Carelse could probably be a very rich man if he wanted to be.
But instead the former PSL referee chose to resist the temptations to which so many of his fellow officials succumbed. As a result he has become well known for his integrity, look not only on the field but off it too.
Coming from a background in the navy, cheap Carelse spent four and half years as the National Lotto draw manager and presided over 311 games as a referee.
Because of his sterling reputation, he was then selected as one of just nine people who act as match commissioners in the country.
“I was also heavily involved in Operation Dribble which was aimed at regaining the credibility of refereeing in South Africa,” explained Carelse.
Operation Dribble was the result of the revelation of widespread corruption among the country’s soccer referees and led to several of them being arrested for being paid large sums of money to throw premier and first division matches.
“I think there were certain refs that people knew they could buy but others they knew were as straight as a die and so I think it kind of bypassed me. From what I have read refs were being offered between R10 000 and R20 000 per game though,” said Carelse.
“Once after a game someone actually came up to me to pay me off because he thought I was in on a deal and I was like ‘huh?’ I then informed the PSL and explained the situation but in the end a decision was taken not to charge the club involved because of a lack of evidence.”
Carelse said that at no point was he even tempted to consider accepting a bribe.
“You can’t buy, borrow or steal integrity, you have to earn it. It would never even have entered my mind to accept a bribe. It goes against everything I believe in and I would rather die a poor man than accept a bribe and get rich from it.”
Asked why where his strength came from to resist the temptation to significantly boost his income, Carelse reckoned: “It’s my own sense of values and ethics. I think it came from when I was in the navy and I have carried those values through to refereeing as well.”
So, has the situation in soccer been sorted out since the fiasco of 2004? “I don’t think the situation is completely resolved yet but it is certainly much, much better. If you look back today, the refs we have today are definitely up to standard,” said Carelse who believes honesty is something that should be integral to any sport.
“You can’t measure its importance, especially when it comes to administrators and officials. Dishonesty is a scourge that needs to be eradicated from sport. There should be no place whatsoever in sport, whether it’s soccer or any other sport, for cheating.” – Heartlines Features.
By Karien Jonckheere