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AFRICA/CARIBBEAN NOW: Ex-Soccer Exec Gets FIFA Assets in Landmark Ruling

World soccer federation FIFA has been stripped of all its South African trademarks and is now forced to hand over documents that could expose corruption and millions in kickbacks at the highest levels of government and the country’s local soccer authority.

In a world first, and what could be seen as a precedent-setting court battle, North Gauteng High Court Judge Van der Westhuizen issued an attachment order in favor of former soccer administrator Leslie Sedibe, the Johannesburg-based City Press reported Aug. 26.

This means FIFA will need to seek Sedibe’s permission to trade in South Africa until such a time as it opposes the order.

Sedibe successfully launched the court application in order to force FIFA to review and possibly overturn the five-year ban and fine it imposed on him after for unethical behavior following investigations into match-fixing in three friendlies ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

At the heart of his application to have FIFA’s trademarks attached is Sedibe’s request of the football body to grant him an opportunity to reopen its probe, allowing him to present evidence that could exonerate him of wrongdoing.

“The applicant is authorised to attach the trademarks owned, and/or in which the first respondent [FIFA] has a beneficial interest, and all trademarks controlled by the first respondent in terms of Section 41(2) of the Trademarks Act No. 194 of 1993 of the Republic of South Africa, ” Van der Westhuizen said in his order Wednesday.

The bruising court battle leveled against FIFA and the South African Football Association (SAFA) by Sedibe will also thrust the late anti-apartheid activist Winnie Madikizela-Mandela back into the spotlight.

In addition to the evidence presented to the court, and central to his case, was a witness statement by Madikizela-Mandela that Sedibe had secured before she died in April.

The City Press reported a recorded interview in which Madikizela-Mandela agrees to testify for Sedibe and was shocked that South African football administrators refused to support him and chose instead to sacrifice him to FIFA’s disciplinary processes without a fair hearing during his tenure as Safa chief executive officer.

Sedibe believes that the resistance to his crusade to clear his name is because some of the exonerating information has been held back to cover up an alleged $10 million fee paid in the run-up to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which was apparently unaccounted for.

In 2015, South Africa was placed under investigation for alleged bribery during the adjudication of the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

FIFA found that a $10 million bribe was spirited away at Safa’s behest and re-emerged in a development fund in the Caribbean.

Jamaica to Certify More Early Childhood Institutions

The total number of certified early childhood institutions in Jamaica will soon increase to 113, up from 17 a year ago.

This, according to Sen. Ruel Reid, the country’s Education, Youth and Information minister, reinforces the government’s commitment to the early childhood sector’s development.

Speaking at the Jamaica Teachers’ Association’s 54th annual conference in Montego Bay on Aug. 22, Reid said the Early Childhood Commission has been crafting a strategy for the sector’s full transformation, which is slated to be rolled out when the 2018-19 academic year begins in September.

He said the ministry has been working to streamline and align the education system, noting that “our focus is to support the birth to three years old group through the early stimulation program, [thereby] allowing our babies to be developmentally ready [by age] 3.”

Emphasizing that the first 1,000 days are the most critical of a child’s development, Reid said his ministry will be partnering with the Ministries of Health as well as Labour and Social Security to undertake supporting engagements to be implemented by the commission.

Reid said these include developmental assessments to understand competencies in order to create the learning environment that fosters early-stage learners’ development, while assuring that “we are fully committed to improving the quality of our early childhood institutions as we firmly believe in providing a good start at this level.”

Meanwhile, Reid advised that the 2018-19 Age Four Assessment will, for the second time, “allow us to identify, from very early, any development deficiencies to be corrected in our children.”

He said the ministry also continues to make significant strides in advancing its K-13 Strategy.

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