GENEVA (AP) — FIFA has banned for life the referee who awarded a disputed penalty for South Africa against Senegal in a World Cup qualifying match.
Referee Joseph Lamptey of Ghana gave a penalty for a non-existent handball against Senegal defender Kalidou Koulibaly. Replays clearly showed the ball struck Koulibaly's knee and then dropped to the ground.
Lamptey was found guilty of breaching the rule relating to "unlawfully influencing match results," FIFA said Monday. His assistant was cleared.
"All charges against the Ghanaian match official David Lionheart Nii Lartey Laryea, whose behavior had also been the subject of investigations, were dismissed," FIFA said.
South Africa scored the penalty kick to lead 1-0 in the 42nd minute in Polokwane last November. The home team went on to beat Senegal 2-1 and is now in second place in the four-team group after two matches. Senegal is third, with only the group winner advancing to play in Russia.
FIFA declined to give more details of why its disciplinary panel imposed a life ban on the referee.
"Further information concerning the South Africa vs. Senegal match in question will be provided once the decision becomes final and binding," FIFA said.
Lamptey can appeal to FIFA and then the Court of Arbitration for Sport. A final verdict at CAS would typically take about a year to be published.
The 42-year-old Lamptey joined FIFA's list of international referees in 2005 but was never selected for a World Cup. He did officiate matches at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.
FIFA did not say if a betting scam was the reason suspected for the referee's decision to award the penalty to South Africa.
A penalty awarded late in a scoreless first half could raise suspicion by potentially triggering bets relating to the state of the game and goals scored at halftime.
"FIFA will continue with its ongoing efforts to combat match manipulation through a variety of initiatives, which include the monitoring of international betting and a confidential reporting system with a dedicated integrity hotline and e-mail address," the world soccer body said.
Last month, FIFA said it would shut down its Zurich-based betting monitoring subsidiary known as Early Warning System.