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Zifa, SAFA’S HISTORIC INDABA . . . Associations forge ties on fighting corruption . . . Fifa disown Henrietta Rushwaya

Zifa, SAFA’S HISTORIC INDABA . . . Associations forge ties on fighting corruption . . . Fifa disown Henrietta Rushwaya

Zifa, SafaSports Reporter
ZIFA have welcomed the close co-operation they have started with the South African Football Association with the local body’s president, Philip Chiyangwa, last night describing it as an historic move that will play a big role in the fight to end the scourge of match-fixing.

Chiyangwa met with his SAFA counterpart Danny Jordaan in Cape Town yesterday with the pair leading their respective delegations in the key indaba during which they exchanged notes following revelations that there had been a match-fixing scam involving South African Premier League games and also targeted the Warriors’ 2017 African Cup of Nations qualifiers against Swaziland over the Easter weekend.

The ZIFA president, speaking from Cape Town last night, hailed the indaba which was also attended by the chairperson of the South African portfolio committee on sport Beauty Nomvuzo Dlulane.

Chiyangwa said SAFA had indicated to them that they had handed the evidence to the Hawks while ZIFA had also similarly handed the documentation they have on the matter to the Zimbabwe Republic Police.

“Basically, they (SAFA) have handed their matter to the Hawks. The disciplinary committee is dispatching charge sheets to the accused before the weekend and in Zimbabwe the police have everything now.

“We will pursue normal football procedures in accordance with the judicial bodies of our federations.

“I must say it has been a very progressive meeting and the first joint Zim-SA bilateral in football.

“It’s historic . . . hazvisati zvamboitika,’’ Chiyangwa said.

Chiyangwa reckoned that the indaba in Cape Town heralded the beginning of a closer co-operation between ZIFA and SAFA on the many facets of football.

As ZIFA and SAFA met following the former’s move to bust a match-fixing scam, it emerged yesterday that one of the accused in the syndicate Henrietta Rushwaya was never contracted by FIFA to penetrate the underworld betting syndicate with the world football body saying it only works with respective public authorities and other sports organisations on a national, regional and global level to tackle the issue of match manipulation.

Rushwaya claims in her reports that her relationship with the cartel is part of an elaborate sting operation aimed at busting the match-fixing gangsters.

However, in an e-mail response to the Chronicle, FIFA, who took longer than usual to respond to questions, as they also had to verify with its various security contacts around the world on whether they had contracted the former ZIFA chief executive officer, said Rushwaya has never been their point person in combating match manipulation.

“In relation to your query the individual (Rushwaya) you mentioned has never worked for FIFA Security or as a FIFA investigator. The integrity of the game is a top priority for FIFA and we work closely with law enforcement agencies as well as the respective public authorities and other sports organisations on a national, regional and global level to tackle the issue of match manipulation,” said FIFA yesterday.

FIFA said match manipulation is a threat that undermines the integrity and credibility of football at different levels of the game.

“FIFA has a zero-tolerance policy on match manipulation and is committed to protecting the integrity of football by all means necessary.

FIFA has developed a wide range of measures and initiatives to support the international football community in its efforts to protect the integrity of the game. The FIFA Security Division continues to develop and co-ordinate FIFA’s initiatives to tackle and combat match manipulation,” said FIFA.

The latest match-fixing scandal has already seen the Philip Chiyangwa executive committee suspend one of its own, Edzai Kasinauyo, while Warriors’ assistant coach Nation Dube has since been relieved of his duties with the national association also ordering Dube’s employers Hwange to suspend the gaffer as a result of the allegations.

The indaba in Cape Town also took place against the background of a corruption scam hovering over South Africa’s 2010 World Cup bid.

FIFA said yesterday that members of its executive committee had in the past sold their votes in World Cup hosting contests, including for the tournament held in South Africa in 2010.

“It is now apparent that multiple members of FIFA’s Executive Committee abused their positions and sold their votes on multiple occasions,” it said in a legal document filed to a US court.

It said that former executive committee members Chuck Blazer, Jack Warner and other individuals engineered a $10 million payoff in exchange for executive committee votes regarding the hosting of the 2010 World Cup, eventually awarded to South Africa.

And FIFA yesterday demanded tens of millions of dollars in damages from the “sordid” officials now facing charges in the United States over mass bribery scandals that have rocked world football.

In a wide-ranging admission to US authorities on the scope of soccer corruption, football’s governing body openly accused South Africa of paying a $10 million bribe to secure votes for the 2010 World Cup.

FIFA also highlighted how one of the main accused, former FIFA vice-president Jeffrey Webb, has allegedly been leading a champagne lifestyle despite agreeing to hand over millions of dollars as part of a plea deal with US authorities.

World football is at the centre of multiple inquiries into bribery and misconduct and the award of World Cup tournaments.

On top of 39 individuals facing charges, seven in the United States, its former leader Sepp Blatter and his heir apparent Michel Platini have both been banned.

FIFA acknowledged the widespread graft of recent decades in its most explicit manner yet. It accused the tainted officials of “brazen corruption”.

“By corrupting these tournaments, matches, sponsorships and other football affairs through their backroom deals and secret pay-offs, the defendants dragged FIFA into their sordid misconduct and tarnished the FIFA brand,” said the FIFA demand for restitution made to US authorities.”

FIFA said in a statement that it “estimates that at a minimum tens of millions of dollars were diverted from the football community illegally through bribery, kickbacks and corrupt schemes carried out by the defendants.

“This amount is likely to increase as the investigation continues.”

It will seek money from the $190 million that the United States says has been forfeited by the 39 individuals and two companies facing charges.

FIFA named 20 former executive committee members and leading officials in regional confederations that it said had taken more than $28 million in compensation, travel and other costs alone.

“FIFA as the world governing body of football wants that money back and we are determined to get it no matter how long it takes,” said Gianni Infantino, who was elected as FIFA president on February 26.

“The convicted defendants abused the positions of trust they held at FIFA and other international football organisations and caused serious and lasting damage to FIFA, its member associations and the football community,” Infantino added.

The FIFA claim said the corrupt officials “betrayed their duties and sold their powers to the highest bidder.”

Many of the bribes were paid for lucrative television and sponsorship deals in Central and South America. Most of the defendants are from this region.

World Cup bids also face mounting scrutiny.

South Africa has strongly denied paying a bribe to secure the 2010 World Cup. But FIFA backed suspicions raised by US investigators.

The claim says executive committee members — including Jack Warner of Trinidad and Tobago and Charles Blazer of the United States “sold their votes on multiple occasions”.

It said that Warner, who is fighting extradition to the United States, Blazer, who has made a plea deal with US authorities and admitted his crimes and pleaded guilty), Warner’s son Daryan Warner and other unidentified suspects “engineered a $10 million payoff in exchange for executive committee votes regarding where the 2010 FIFA World Cup would be hosted.”

Daryan Warner was “his father’s bagman” and collected “a briefcase with $10 000 in cash from a high-ranking South African bid committee official” which he took back to his father, said the document.

“Ultimately, given defendant Warner’s strong illicit ties to the South African bid committee, the South Africans offered a more attractive bribe of $10 million in exchange for Warner’s, Blazer’s and a third executive committee member’s votes,” it added.

Warner disguised the payment “as support for the benefit of the ‘African Diaspora’ in the Caribbean region.”

“They disguised and funnelled the bribe money through the financial accounts of FIFA, member associations and the 2010 FIFA World Cup local organizing committee.”

It also told how Warner sold votes for the 2011 FIFA presidential election to Qatari official Mohamed bin Hammam, who has since been banned for life.

FIFA said that $353 537 was wired to a Caribbean Football Union account controlled by Warner.

After Bin Hammam addressed a CFU conference, “each attendee was directed to a room where they were handed an envelope and instructed not to discuss the envelope or its contents with anyone.

“The envelopes each had $40 000 in cash inside. Defendant Warner explained that although these funds had been disguised as payments from CFU, they were in fact payments from Bin Hammam.”

Since the scandal has erupted, FIFA has passed reforms controlling the powers of the executive committee and its members.

Experts have expressed doubts on whether the changes will be enough to end misconduct.

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