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Forgive players: SRC

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The Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) has recommended severe bans for football officials involved in the Asiagate match-fixing scandals while advocating for leniency for players, who were “victims of unscrupulous officials”.

SRC director-general Charles Nhemachena told NewsDay Sport on Monday morning before a closed-door session with Fifa president Sepp Blatter his board had finished reading the second report of the match-fixing scandals.

The report has also been handed over to Fifa, the police and the Confederation of African Football, who also wrote to Zifa last week pledging their support.

Fifa head of security Chris Eaton is still expected in the country to meet the investigating committee, led by Zifa vice-president Ndumiso Gumede, the SRC, police and officials from the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture.

Said Nhemachena: “We have finished going through the report and the board has made recommendations to Zifa and it’s now up to them to implement or otherwise.

“The board is concerned with the players who were victims of some unscrupulous officials. This happened during the time when the economic situation was not good in the country and they were very vulnerable to these machinations.

“While due process must be followed, we hope there will be a touch of leniency as far as the players are concerned, but the officials must be dealt with severely or given whatever punishment is applicable under the Zifa and Fifa codes.

“We are happy with their (Zifa) commitment to clean up the game and we hope that people will not lose the opportunity to develop the game.”

Addressing a press conference later in the evening with Blatter, Education, Sport, Arts and Culture minister David Coltart also paid tribute to the Zifa Board, presided over by Cuthbert Dube.

“Such visits are important for football and sport because they cut across the political divide and we hope this marks the expansion of Fifa involvement in Zimbabwe football. We will assist Zifa in whatever way possible,” he said.

Dube said his organisation was humbled by the historic visit.

“We are very grateful for the visit and the confidence you have shown in us to rebuild the game. I am also grateful to Coltart who has promised to assist us in the clean-up exercise.”

On Tuesday, Gumede said they were waiting for a date from the Fifa delegation on their arrival.

“They were supposed to be here on Sunday, then yesterday, so we are still waiting for them to advise us on when they are coming,” he said.

The second phase of the investigations, commissioned in October 2010, covered the following matches:

Monomotapa’s trip to Malaysia, Monomotapa’s Caf Champions league sojourn, Merdeka Cup – Malaysia, Oman v Zimbabwe, Bahrain v Zimbabwe, Yemen v Zimbabwe, Bulgaria v Zimbabwe, Yemen v Zimbabwe, China v Zimbabwe and the Cecafa tournament.

Three Dynamos players- Washington Arubi, David Kutyauripo and Guthrie Zhokinyi were picked up by investigators from the CID Serious Fraud Squad to give statements on what transpired on the Malaysia trips.

The corruption involving Asian betting syndicates blew up in July 2009 when a Monomotapa team went to Malaysia without Premier Soccer League approval and passed themselves off as the Zimbabwe national team.

Monomotapa, after clearance from Zifa then chaired by Wellington Nyatanga, played and lost two matches 4-0 and 1-0. The two friendlies were later stripped of their “A” international status, meaning the defeats did not affect Zimbabwe’s Fifa ranking.

The Zifa probe team looked at the Thailand and Malaysia trips in December 2009. On the trip, a second-string Zimbabwe team lost 3-0 to Thailand; beat the Malaysian champions Selangor 3-0 before suffering a 6-0 drubbing by Syria.

Some of the stars who faced questions over the Asian trips include Nyasha Mushekwi, Daniel Veremu, Cuthbert Malajila, Benjamin Marere, Mthulisi Maphosa, Method Mwanjali, Phillip Marufu, Willard Manyatera and Zephaniah Ngodzo.

Coaches Sunday Chidzambwa, Joey Antipas, Emmanuel Nyahuma, Luke Masomere and Methembe Ndlovu had also been fingered.

Ndlovu is now a Zifa board member (development) while Chidzambwa coaches Black Leopards in the South African Premiership.

Vice-president Kenny Marange has also been fingered.

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