Zifa yesterday appealed to Parliament and the government to intervene and craft legislation that would impose deterrent sentences for match-fixers and to protect those involved in the investigations of the infamous Asiagate scam.
Zifa chief executive officer, Jonathan Mashingaidze and board member (finance) Elliot Kasu told the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Education, Sport, Arts and Culture chaired by Mutasa North lawmaker David Chimhini that they wanted Parliament and the government to intervene so those implicated who might want to use political clout in order to avoid the course of justice are dealt with without fear or favour.
They told the committee that they had also asked Interpol to investigate the cases of match-fixing because they were twofold; those of a criminal nature and others were offences in contravention of Fifa rules and regulations.
“Asiagate is of serious concern because no sponsor will finance the sport of football where results will be determined by morally unscrupulous individuals who sacrifice patriotism for only
$5 000 in this circus of madness,” said Mashingaidze.
“Espionage took place over the past four years, where these match-fixing syndromes would move in the company of the mafia and people who wanted to exploit the economic meltdown of Zimbabwe and it was easy to induce a player to make the country lose,” he said.
Mashingaidze said the post investigation process will involve prosecution of the masterminds of the scandal so that there was finality because Fifa president Sepp Blatter came to Zimbabwe and declared that all those found guilty would be banned for life.
“As we speak now, one of our board members is in hiding because there are people baying for his blood. There will also be need for psychotherapy for those players who sacrificed their psycho values for the sake of dirty money,” Mashingaidze said.
He continued: “We need Parliament to assist us to have legislative support which will be foolproof in making people who deface football accountable for their mischief through the statutes. It will protect the game of football because without that our game will be susceptible to the machinations of fraudsters. We also want assurance of security for the Asiagate investigators due to the death threats to some of our members.”
Kasu said when the new Zifa board came into office people knew that there were nefarious activities happening, but were not bold enough to crack them, resulting in a lot of cases pending from the previous board.
“These included unsanctioned trips to Asia. When we started investigating, a lot of people involved in these scandals tried to instil fear in us, but we said if football has to be sponsored, we needed to clean our house,” said Kasu.
He said the methodology used to come up with the report of the Asiagate match -fixing scandal was to interview players, the technical teams, journalists and other people involved.
Kasu said they could not manage to visit all the places involved, but some of the people interviewed gave written testimonies that were signed.
“However, there is misconstruing from the press where they think we look at the number of trips a person participated in these match fixing deals. Instead, we look at how many games a person participated in because people are trying to hide behind that,” said Kasu.
He continued: “There was no single cent that went to Zifa and it means this money was going into people’s pockets. About 80 players participated in match-fixing, including technical members, coaches, referees and even current board members,” he said.
He said $28 million had been made available to Interpol to curb international match-fixing and Zimbabwe should try to tap into that amount in its quest to put an end to match-fixing syndicates.
On Wednesday, Education, Sport, Arts and Culture minister David Coltart, while admitting flaws in the second Asiagate report, said he would call in the police and the Attorney-General to assist and assured the nation that action will certainly be taken against alleged perpetrators of the scam.