|‘Life bans for Asiagate culprits’|
|Tuesday, 05 July 2011 01:00|
ZIMBABWE'S players and officials implicated in the Asiagate scam risk life bans from the game if they are convicted by the country's courts of law and Zifa's disciplinary machinery, Fifa president Sepp Blatter said yesterday.
The world football governing body supremo said match-fixing was hard to prove because it's usually centred in unregistered betting syndicates but they were working with international police organisations to destroy it.
The Fifa boss said each country in the world has its own laws and statues that should be followed while the football associations are governed by the Fifa statutes.
Blatter, who is on an historic two-day visit to Zimbabwe, said the world football body was working closely with registered betting syndicates across the world to stem out corruption and match-fixing.
The Fifa boss yesterday told a media conference in Harare that they could endorse life bans on the players and officials found guilty by Zifa and the local conventional courts of match-fixing charges.
"In each country, there are laws of that country that take place first.
"There are courts which have jurisdictions over cases and in matters of football the local football associations also make their judgments.
"So for the players and officials who have been implicated, first the laws of the country have to take place then the local football federation and Fifa will endorse life bans on those found guilty and convicted," he said.
Blatter's visit to Zimbabwe yesterday came ahead of the expected visit of Fifa's head of security Chris Eaton as Zifa moves towards finalising the match-fixing scam that rocked Zimbabwe with some Asian betting syndicates.
Eaton was in South Korea over the weekend where that country's courts have convicted 10 players over match-fixing.
The South Korean Government has announced strong measures to prevent match-fixing in response to an unprecedented match-rigging scandal in the country's top football league.
The suspects are believed to have received bribes to fix the results of the league cup game between Daejeon and Pohang Steelers in April, which the former lost 3-0.
Greece has also been hit by match-fixing scandals in its top-flight league.
The South Korean Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said it will enhance the punishment for gambling brokers and illegal betting operators to root out match-rigging.
Eaton, a former Interpol officer, is now expected to arrive in Zimbabwe today with Blatter saying Fifa was working closely with the international police and betting syndicates to eradicate match-fixing.
"Match-fixing is rather complicated to prove because mostly it's the unregistered betting syndicates that are used.
"But we are working hard with the Interpol to try and monitor what is going on.
"These measures include working with a company Early Warning Systems to raise alarm to us and the Interpol.
"This requires working with information given to the officials about an illegal betting that will be taking place within organised football," said Blatter.
Blatter said there were some betting pools that are registered and recognised and operate above board.
But it's the illegal betting syndicates that have become a cancer to the game.
Zimbabwe's Warriors as are alleged to have received large sums of money to lose matches in Asia. Blatter, who is accompanied on a visit to Zimbabwe by Fifa secretary-general Jerome Valcke, said Fifa will have to improve their ethics committee as part of efforts to clean up the rot.
"Fifa has a disciplinary and ethics committee. What happens is that the disciplinary committee works on what affects the game in the field of play.
"The rulings are based on the reports by the match officials, match commissioners, and referees.
"The ethics commissions make rulings on things that happen outside the field of football and play.
"We have realised that a lot of things have also been happening outside the field but affecting our football and it's imperative that we improve the organisation of our ethics committee.
"There is need to make it more professional and deal with actions outside Fifa Fair Play," he said.
Blatter commended Zimbabwe for taking strides to clean up its image in the wake of the Asiagate scandal.
Zifa's efforts to finalise investigations into allegations of match-fixing during the Warriors' trips to Asia had also received international backing with Caf endorsing the association's final Asiagate report.
A four-member Zifa probe team led by the association's vice-president Ndumiso Gumede, which includes board members Elliot Kasu, Benedict Moyo and Fungai Chihuri, has completed their investigations with their final report having been submitted to Fifa, Caf and the Sport and Recreation Commission.
During Eaton's expected visit this week, he is likely to meet local police and Zifa and the Sports Commission to discuss the probe.
It also emerged last month that the Sports Commission had taken note of the Asiagate II report and recommended to Zifa to "exercise some leniency with the players caught up in the scam".
The Commission, is however understood to have recommended that Zifa should come down hard on the coaches and administrators who would have been fingered as the main actors in the scam.
Caf also asked Zifa to furnish them with details of the kind of sanctions they were proposing to impose on those listed by the report as having knowingly participated in match-fixing and bribery.