Puma ends South African sponsorship over fixing claims

(Reuters) - Puma has ended its contract to sponsor the South African national football team after less than two years because of match-fixing allegations, the German sportswear company said on Thursday.

The loss of a major sponsor is a further blow after 2010 hosts South Africa failed to qualify for next year's World Cup in Brazil.

A FIFA report last year alleged the results of South Africa's pre-World Cup matches against Thailand, Bulgaria, Colombia and Guatemala leading up the 2010 finals were fixed.

Puma, which took over the sponsorship from German rival Adidas in 2012, was critical of the way the South African Football Association (SAFA) had dealt with the claims.

"Following match-fixing allegations made against SAFA along with inappropriate responses from within the football organisation (including the suspension of senior officials), Puma terminated the contract with immediate effect," Puma said in a statement.

The SAFA initially suspended its chief and four other leading officials in response to the allegations but reinstated them in January, saying they were improperly removed from office.

Experienced football administrator Danny Jordaan, who led South Africa's successful 2010 World Cup, was elected as the new SAFA president last month.

Puma sponsors a number of Africa's top football nations including Ivory Coast, Ghana and Cameroon.

(Writing by Keith Weir; Editing by John O'Brien)

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