Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
CLASS One referees — Phineas Takaedza, Admire Chirara and Tally Mwenga — have been banned from handling soccer matches after they were found guilty of accepting a bribe during a ZIFA Northern Region Division One match last November.
Takayedza, who was the referee on the day, has been banned from all football-related activities for 10 years.
His assistant on the day, Mwenga, has been banned for five years while another assistant, Chirara, has been banned for three years.
The three were found guilty of allegedly receiving a $100 bribe from the home team Blue Jets in a match against Herentals at Rimuka in Kadoma last year.
In a judgment handed down by the ZIFA Northern Region Disciplinary Panel chaired by Brighton Mudzamiri, the three match officials were found guilty of contravening paragraph 17.0 of the ZIFA Referees Committee Standing Orders.
The statutes say “accepting any favours calculated to influence the result of a match to which one has been appointed, including matches to which one has not been appointed,” is a punishable offence.
The charges against the three arose when on November 22, 2015, at Rimuka, they allegedly received a bribe from a Blue Jets official to influence the match in favour of the hosts.
The match ended in a 1-1 draw.
“The money was received by Chirara, who then handed over the $100 to the referee of the day, Takaedza. The money was referred to as being money for drinks,” the judgment read.
“Mwenga, the other assistant referee, was also present when Chirara handed over the money. The money was later recovered by the match commissioner Lovemore Marange from Takaedza.”
Takaedza and Mwenga pleaded not guilty. But Chirara, who handed the dirty money to Takaedza, pleaded guilty.
According to the judgment, there was overwhelming evidence against the match officials leaving the Disciplinary Panel with no choice but to ban the officials.
“Chirara’s evidence that he received the money and gave it to the referee was even supported by Mwenga who said that he saw Chirara giving the money to Takaedza and saying that it was for drinks,” read the judgment. “Takaedza’ s defence that Chirara had given him for safe-keeping is rather ridiculous given that when Chirara received his match fees, he did not ask anyone to keep the money for him and, even in the changing room, Chirara was hardly two metres away from his bag and could not have asked anyone to keep his money for him. “Takaedza even initially refused to produce the money, obviously avoiding the production of an exhibit.”
The panel said they decided on a punitive penalty considering that corruption was a cancer in football which must be eradicated.
“Every effort must be made to rid our football of all corrupt tendencies.
(a) Phinieas Takayedza is a senior referee who should have been giving guidance to the upcoming referees. Instead, he wanted to hide the offence by any means possible. He did not show any signs of remorse.
(b) Admire Chirara is a junior referee who took part in this corrupt act. He showed contrition by pleading guilty to the charge. He even apologised to the match commissioner. Were it not for his honesty, it would have been difficult to prove this case.
(c) Tally Mwenga is a junior referee who indulged in this corrupt act. Throughout the occurrence, he was a passive actor who recognised, but failed to resist and report, a corrupt act. He, too, apologised to the commissioner on the day of the offence.”
Yesterday, ZIFA Northern Region Division One chairman, Willard Manyengavana, hailed the judgment and said this was a positive step in curbing corruption in the game. “I am happy with the decision made by the Disciplinary panel. I believe they reached that decision after they proved beyond reasonable doubt that money exchanged hands.
“This is going to be deterrent to the other referees as they know the consequences.
“As a region we have also asked the club (Blue Jets) to furnish us with a report and we have summoned them despite the fact that they have been relegated,” said Manyengavana.