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South Africa-Spain allowed to stand

South Africa’s 1-0 friendly win against Spain on Nov. 19 has been allowed to stand, despite fears the result could be stricken from the record books due to the world champions using too many substitutes.

South Africa celebrate their victory over Spain.
South Africa celebrate their victory over Spain.

South Africa won the match at Johannesburg’s FNB Stadium thanks to a Bernard Parker goal, but the main talking point was Spain replacing injured goalkeeper Victor Valdes with substitute Pepe Reina late in the game, despite having already made the permitted six changes.

The incident caused controversy at the time, with home coach Gordon Igesund objecting furiously on the sideline, but FIFA delegate Ayodele Anjorin Moucharafou from Benin and Lesotho referee William Koto allowed Reina to enter.

Reports then suggested the game could be ‘downgraded’, meaning no official ranking points or player caps would be awarded, but a FIFA statement now says the fixture has been confirmed as a full ‘A’ international.

“The South Africa-Spain friendly match of Nov. 19 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,” the statement read.

“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. The match shall be considered as an official match and is therefore included in the November edition of the FIFA World Ranking."

These latest standings saw no change in position for either team, with La Roja remaining in top spot with 1,507 points (down from 1513) and Bafana Bafana still 61st with 554 points (up from 540).

The FIFA statement said it was still possible that Spain could be punished for breaking its laws, however.

“Regarding the alleged incident of Spain using more than the maximum of six substitutes, FIFA is currently analysing the information at its disposal to assess possible next steps,” it said. “South Africa shall not suffer any negative consequences on its part for adhering to the agreed conditions and only using up to a maximum of six substitutes."

Spain captain Iker Casillas has said that any blame for what happened should go to the FIFA delegate who gave the go ahead for the extra change at the time.

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