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Life ban for match fixers

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Alleged match-fixers in the Asiagate scandal will receive life bans from football if found guilty, Fifa president Sepp Blatter said last night.

Blatter was addressing a Press conference at the end of a historic one-day visit to Zimbabwe when he touched on the controversial subject.

His office has just taken delivery of the second report of the Asiagate match-fixing investigation and his remarks fly in the face of Zifa’s attempts to be lenient on players involved in the games that rocked Zimbabwe football since 2007.

“We are working with Interpol and governments on the issue of match-fixing. There are criminal laws relevant to each country, we have our own statutes, the Disciplinary Committee and the Ethics Committee, but we cannot intervene at the first stage.

“We will let the jurisdiction of the association take precedence and if found guilty we will suspend them for life; whether they are players or officials, we will ban them for life,” Blatter said.

Earlier, he had said: “I know you have the Asiagate, don’t worry about that. We will clean the situation with the help of the government and Interpol.”
Fifa will donate €20 million ($28,5 million) over 10 years to Interpol to fight match-fixing and illegal betting.

Fifa will give €4 million in each of the next two years, and then €1,5 million in the following eight, according to an e-mailed statement today. Interpol, the international police agency, will use the funds against illegal and irregular gambling.

“The threat of match-fixing in sport is a major one, and we are committed to doing everything in our power to tackle this threat,” Blatter said in a statement before the Fifa Congress in June.

“In the fight against illegal betting and match-fixing, the preventive measures that can be taken and the protection of the players and the integrity of the game are of the utmost importance.”

They have also created an internal department, the Betting Integrity Investigation Task Force, to investigate illegal gambling.

Fifa head of security Chris Eaton and investigations officer Terry Steans have arrived in the country for their investigations and are due to meet the head of the investigations committee, vice-president Ndumiso Gumede and his crew — Benedict Moyo, Elliot Kasu and Fungai Chihuri.
They will also meet with the police and officials from the Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture.

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.

Speaking at the same press conference, Zifa president Cuthbert Dube said his organisation would be transparent in the discharge of their duties.

“We have already been told that we must start applying for Goal Project III now and I can assure you that we will be transparent, accountable and professional in the discharge of our duties.”

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