Zifa to review Asiagate bans

BACK UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT . . . Henrietta Rushwaya’s ban from all football activities for match-fixing is set to be reviewed by ZIFA

BACK UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT . . . Henrietta Rushwaya’s ban from all football activities for match-fixing is set to be reviewed by ZIFA

Eddie Chikamhi Sports Reporter
ZIFA president Phillip Chiyangwa wants his board to find immediate closure to the long raging Asiagate saga and will deliberate on reviewing bans and other sanctions that were imposed on various players and officials for their alleged roles in the match-fixing scandal that rocked the domestic game four years ago.

Chiyangwa yesterday said the association is seeking finality to the Asiagate chapter which has remained an albatross around the association’s neck for over three years after world football governing body FIFA refused to endorse the recommendations of an ethics committee that conducted the investigations to give them a worldwide effect.

The issue will now be tabled at the next ZIFA board meeting.

ZIFA in 2012 imposed sanctions on over 100 players and officials who were accused of taking part in the infamous national teams’ trips to Asia between 2007 and 2009.

However, the previous board led by Cuthbert Dube failed to put the case to rest three years after they had finished their investigations.

Chiyangwa yesterday said the association is seeking to bring the curtain down on the whole chapter which has left Zimbabwean football in suspense after FIFA queried the methodology used by the independent ethics committee.

Recently a number of players and officials who include former Warriors coach Sunday Chidzambwa, Method Mwanjali, Thomas Sweswe, Guthrie Zhokinyi and goalkeeper Edmore Sibanda successfully appealed against the life bans that had been imposed on them for their alleged roles in the match-fixing scandal.

The bans, however, did not have a global effect since they were not endorsed by FIFA hence foreign-based professionals continued to play for their clubs.

The situation was different with the locally based players and coaches, most of whom were unable to raise the appeal fees which looked prohibitive.

Players and officials had to part with $6 000 to have their cases heard but some could not raise the amount and as a result their careers were left in limbo for the last three years.

Chiyangwa yesterday said his new board, which was installed last month, will move with speed to attend to the Asiagate saga and have included it in the agenda for their next board meeting.

The Harare businessman said it was important to review the sanctions so that Zimbabwean football steps out of its dark past, which also left the domestic game deeply polarised.

The ZIFA president made the remarks on the association’s website.

“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 roles in the Asiagate scandal. We feel it is prudent to review such sanctions and unite members of the football fraternity,” said Chiyangwa.

The Harare property mogul however, has not indicated how they intend to go about the case if his board assents to his motion.

Players such as Mwanjali, Sibanda and Sweswe have already started playing football again in the domestic league after they were cleared by the disciplinary committee. Sweswe featured for ZPC Kariba last season while Mwanjali and Sibanda are back at CAPS United.

Big goalkeeper Sibanda was cleared last year and featured for ZIFA Northern Region Division One side Gun- ners.

Former ZIFA chief executive Henrietta Rushwaya and the association’s ex-programmes officer Jonathan Musavengana were fingered as the masterminds of the scandal.

The ZIFA probe also sucked in the now defunct Monomotapa who masqueraded as the Warriors on a trip to Malaysia.

Former Dynamos and Warriors gaffer Chidzambwa, who said the ban felt like a death sentence hovering over his head, has since taken up a coaching post at ZPC Kariba. Chidzambwa had maintained his innocence in the case until his name was cleared.

However, the Asiagate scandal has painted a bad picture of Zimbabwean football.

The players were allegedly paid money to lose several hastily-arranged friendly games by predetermined scores for betting purposes.

Many of the players and coaches who were convicted by the ZIFA independent ethics committee maintained that they were used as pawns as they were not involved in the money-spinning syndicate.

A Singaporean national, Wilson Raj Perumal, was the man at the centre of the match fixing syndicates. Perumal, who has served jail term for some of his match fixing crimes, admitted in his book, Kelong Kings, that he ran a syndicate that made millions in profits every year from its match fixing activities.

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