Fifa head of security Chris Eaton is not coming to Zimbabwe on Friday after all.
He has not given a date for his arrival, so says new Zifa chief operations officer Joseph Mamutse.
“He has not confirmed when he is coming, but has made it clear he will make the trip. Once the date is confirmed, we will let you know,” Mamutse said.
The Fifa Media Office in Zurich last night also said they were not sure when he would be coming.
“We will have to verify that. Fifa officials travel all over the world all the time and it’s difficult to keep track of all of them. So for now, we are not sure when he is travelling, send us questions and we will get back to you as soon as possible,” the office said.
They had not responded to questions sent by NewsDay Sport by the time of going to print last night.
Eaton had been expected in the country for almost two months now, but his arrival is expected to coincide with the formation of a six-man Ethics Committee tasked with continuing investigations into the Asiagate match-fixing scam.
The committee, however, could now be put in place next week as consultations on its composition have not been completed and Zifa president Cuthbert Dube is meeting resistance from some of his board members.
The board members argue that Dube cannot go it alone in the appointment of the committee as he has to stick to resolutions made at the last meeting on September 9 that while the committee would be independent, the final decision would be made by the entire board.
Dube has been in Cairo, Egypt, where he attended a Confederation of African Football (Caf) youth meeting and was expected back in the country last night and with consultations still uncompleted, the Ethics committee could be finalised next week.
“He is coming back tonight (Thursday night) and will complete the consultations by the weekend after which the announcements could be made early next week,” said chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze.
Eaton and his team will assist to bring the scandal, which has led to the suspension of Solomon Mugavazi, Methembe Ndlovu and Kenny Marange from all football activities, to finality.
Meanwhile, Eaton believes football match-fixers can be beaten and the recent spate of cases is a sign of success in the battle rather than failure.
“I joined (the police) as a very young person in Australia, I have worked with international investigations on organised crime, particularly for the last 20 years, and I think this is eminently defeatable,” Eaton told chinadaily.com last Friday.
“I believe that by good due diligence, good regulation and good oversight, we will eradicate opportunities for criminality to take over this sport,” added Eaton, who worked for Interpol for more than a decade before joining Fifa.
“We can defeat it; this is not an impossible situation at all.”
The sport has been hit by a recent raft of match-fixing with cases in Greece, Turkey, Italy, South Korea and Finland as well as international friendlies.
The Turkish case resulted in last season’s champions Fenerbahce being withdrawn from the Champions League while Serie A side Atalanta had six points deducted in Italy.
Singaporean national Wilson Raj Perumal, a major suspect in the Zimbabwe match-fixing scandal, was jailed for two years in Finland while nine players, seven Zambians and two Georgians, were given suspended sentences for trying to fix matches.
“This is an indicator of success, not an indicator of failure,” said Eaton. “The fact is, police are investigating when they weren’t in the past, perhaps there’s an interest in match-fixing when there wasn’t before.
“This is not some sort of epidemic, this is an epidemic of enforcement, and this will help to break the back of criminal interest in football.
“It is a success story that these things are coming out, not a failure. It’s dismaying for people to see, but this means something is happening, it’s not being ignored,” he told the paper.
Earlier this year, Fifa set up a taskforce with Interpol, promising to donate $27,7 billion to the cause over the next 10 years.
Eaton said the June friendly between Nigeria and Argentina, which the Africans won 4-1, was still under investigation and that he still wanted to speak to the referee Ibrahim Chaibou of Niger.
“We’re trying to engage the referee, so far unsuccessfully. He retires this month, but I’m endeavouring to speak to him and get his side of the story, it’s not over.”