Eaton calms Zifa nerves

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Zifa, still to name an Ethics Committee for the Asiagate match-fixing, have their gods to thank after Fifa head of security Chris Eaton finally landed in the country on Saturday.

The visit had been postponed for two months leaving the national association uncertain whether the world football governing body had adopted the report sent to them at the beginning of the month.

And as Eaton left the country on Tuesday morning, they must have felt encouraged by the level of support they received from Fifa to clean up the local game despite the release of the contentious Asiagate second report.

The report was authored, after interviews with various players, journalists, coaches and administrators, by a four-man investigating committee chaired by first vice-president Ndumiso Gumede, Benedict Moyo, Elliot Kasu and Fungai Chihuri.

Several people mentioned in the report said contents of their presentations were “cooked up”, while others were omitted deliberately or otherwise from the interviews that stretched from last year.

Some names have been mentioned in trips they did not travel and there is even a line that says top suspect, Wilson Raj Perumal, languishing in prison in Finland for match-fixing, even arranged the 1998 World Cup final between France and Brazil that saw Ronaldo behaving in bizarre manner on the eve of the match.

Zifa is in the process of putting up an independent commission, which Eaton has already given thumbs up to, and once that process is completed it is hoped that the whole issue will be out finally.

But Eaton, in a recorded response during a media conference on Monday evening, said appropriate consideration should be given to the report considering that it was compiled by football administrators.

The report has led to suspension of three board members, Zifa second vice-president Kenny Marange, Northern Region chairman Solomon Mugavazi and board member (development) Methembe Ndlovu until their appearance before the Ethics Committee.

Eaton said he will make his own investigations based on the report and will report back to Fifa while awaiting the final determinations from the Ethics Committee.

“Anyone who states that the report is deficient, is wrong.

“It’s a report that came essentially from a football association not an investigating agency.

“These are not investigators or police officers, but very responsible gentlemen who took a very responsible task in very difficult circumstances and great pressure.

“And I admire them for that and they should be admired.

“They are the reason why football in Zimbabwe is being reformed.

“People who are engaged in match-fixing are committing a crime. It’s a criminal offence and we will take any action we can under our statutes (against them). People who are engaged in fixing matches do not belong in football. It’s against the very precepts of the sport,”

Eaton said there will be no immunity for match fixers.

“I will investigate every part of that report as it refers to Fifa or any other federation outside Zimbabwe. I’m satisfied that Zimbabwe has addressed allegations that they have found themselves in an extensive way.

“Anything in the report that has implications for Fifa will be investigated by me and reported back to Fifa.”

He then spoke of the incoming committee.

“It’s for the Zifa board to institute their own corrective measures and they have done that by appointing an independent committee. What Fifa want to see are consequences that match the magnitude of the offence to football.

“I look forward to good, strong penalties that reflect the magnitude of the offence.”

The committee is expected to finish their work by the end of October and is likely to receive assistance from Fifa and its partner Interpol to conclude their investigations.

Fifa president Sepp Blatter, on his visit to Zimbabwe on July 4, said match fixers, if found guilty, would be banned for life.