Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
ZIFA yesterday finally put a lid to the long-dragging Asiagate saga when they lifted all bans which the association had imposed on all individuals implicated in the match-fixing scandal that first rocked the domestic game seven years ago.
The ZIFA board met in the capital yesterday for only their second indaba since assuming office on December 5 and Philip Chiyangwa and his executive emerged from their meeting at ZIFA House to issue a statement that they had, with immediate effect, lifted the bans imposed on players, coaches and other individuals who had been handed varying sentences.
ZIFA had, through their ethics committee, handed life bans from all football activities to such individuals as former chief executive Henrietta Rushwaya, ex-programmes officer Jonathan Musavengana, player intermediary Kudzi Shaba and former Premier Soccer League fixtures secretary Godfrey Japajapa.
Ex-footballer Zenzo Moyo and coaches — Clayton Munemo and Emanuel Nyahuma — were also banished from the game.
The majority of the players who had earlier been slapped with sanctions such as Thomas Sweswe, Method Mwanjali, Edmore Sibanda and Guthrie Zhokinyi had their suspensions lifted last year, enabling them to play on the domestic scene.
It was a similar story for veteran coach Sunday Chidzambwa and former Young Warriors and Under-17 gaffer Rodwell Dhlakama, who had their bans lifted on appeal.
Former Northern Region chairman Solomon Mugavazi had also been banned from the game for his alleged role in Monomotapa’s travel to Malaysia where they masqueraded as the Warriors.
Mugavazi owned the now defunct Monomotapa, who won the Premiership in 2008.
Crucially, all the implicated individuals pleaded their innocence and fought constantly to have their bans overturned even taking their cases to the FIFA corridors while the world body on their part, refused to grant the sanctions a worldwide effect citing procedural flaws in the manner the saga was handled.
Chiyangwa had, however, last week hinted that he wanted the board to put the lid on the match-fixing scam and open a new chapter for the local game.
“In an effort to find closure, I will propose that the issue of reviewing Asiagate sanctions be discussed at our next executive committee meeting.
“We understand some players, officials and journalists were banned for their alleged role in the Asiagate scandal. We feel it is prudent to review such sanctions and unite members of the football fraternity,” said Chiyangwa.
And after their meeting yesterday, the board adopted the proposal brought about by their president and resolved to bring finality to the Asiagate saga by lifting all the bans that had been imposed on the individuals.
Although the ending of the Asiagate bans is aimed at uniting the football family, ZIFA could still find themselves at loggerheads with the Premier Soccer League after the board ordered the top-flight body to hold elections to choose a new chairman on February 13.
ZIFA insist that PSL chairman Twine Phiri would have to secure a fresh mandate from the league in order for him to sit on the association’s board. The soccer mother body will now meet with the PSL board of governors on Monday to explain the rationale behind their directive.
Fresh elections have also been ordered for the Women’s League which was being headed by Miriam Sibanda before her suspension by the previous board led by Cuthbert Dube.
Although her suspension was lifted, it was directed that Sibanda would have to seek a fresh mandate from the Women’s Football League for her to return to the ZIFA board.
ZIFA also directed that elections be held in the regions whose leaders — Piraishe Mabhena (Eastern) and Felton Kamambo (Central) — won seats onto the ZIFA board while a new committee will have to be chosen for Beach Soccer.
At the same meeting attended by ZIFA vice-president Omega Sibanda and board members Edzai Kasinauyo, Philemon Machana, Mabhena and Kamambo as well as the association’s lawyer Ralph Maganga, the board resolved to dissolve all the association’s standing committees while a FIFA induction course for the new board is a also being lined up.
The nine resolutions made at the board meeting also suggest that ZIFA could be taking over the organisation of the Bob Super Cup, which has now become an annual tournament to commemorate President Mugabe’s birthday.
ZIFA Board resolutions:
1. Regional Chairpersons to be titled Regional presidents.
2. ZIFA President Dr Philip Chiyangwa to assume COSAFA, CAF and FIFA standing committee positions held by the previous ZIFA President.
3. ZIFA Executive Committee to undergo FIFA induction in due course.
4. The Zimbabwe Football Association Executive Committee has requested to meet the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League board of governors on the 12th of January 2016 at Crown Plaza Hotel, 10am.
5. Preparations are underway for the Bob 92 Cup.
6. Mr Itayi Ndudzo has been appointed to chair the Constitutional Review Committee.
7. ZIFA elections to fill vacant positions will be conducted as follows
Castle Lager Premier Soccer League Chairman, 13th February 2016
Masvingo Province Chairman, 13th February 2016
Women league Chairperson, 20th February 2016
Central and Eastern Regional presidents, 20th February 2016
Beach Soccer committee members, 21st February 2016
8.Asiagate bans have been lifted forthwith.
9. All standing committees have been dissolved with immediate effect.