Fifa talks tough

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There are no immediate Asiagate scalps yet, but the Federation of International Football Associations (Fifa) yesterday warned that they were still pursuing the matter and empowered the yet-to-be constituted ethics committee to deal with the suspects.

Fifa head of security Chris Eaton said action would be taken against those found guilty in the biggest match-fixing scandal to hit Zimbabwean football.

Addressing a Press briefing, Eaton, accompanied by the Fifa investigations officer Terry Stean, said the ball was now in the court of the law enforcement agents and the soon-to-be formed Ethics Committee.

“It’s not for Fifa to recommend penalties, but the Fifa president Sep Blatter is on record that we won’t tolerate corruption. The Fifa disciplinary ethics committee recently released the penalties, which range from life bans to several years out of football.

“It’s up to the Zifa board to institute their own corrective measures and they have done that by appointing the independent Ethics Committee.

“People who were involved in match-fixing do not belong in football. They don’t deserve respect and they don’t deserve sympathy. Fifa has zero tolerance on cases of match-fixing.

What Fifa wants to see is consequences, real consequences, for the match fixers depending on the magnitude of the offence to football..
Eaton flew into the country on Saturday in a bid to get to the bottom of the match-fixing and illegal betting syndicates scandal that has rocked Zimbabwean football.

The Fifa representatives met with officials from the Sports and Recreation Commission, Criminal Investigations Department, Anti-corruption Commission and Zimbabwe Republic Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri.

Eaton, an Australian detective who stepped down as Interpol’s director of operations to become Fifa’s new head of security last year, is leading the Zurich-based ruling body’s response to the crime in football.

He warned that there would be no amnesty for players and officials found guilty.

A probe team chaired by Zifa board member’s first vice-president Ndumiso Gumede compiled a damning 162-page investigative report, which alleged the Zimbabwe Warriors were paid to throw matches during several trips to Asia.

The report has resulted in the suspension of three board members — Solomon Mugavazi, the Northern Region chairman, Methembe Ndlovu, the board member (development) and second vice-president Kenny Marange — from all football-related activities until cleared by the proposed Ethics Committee.

The Asiagate report also listed the players, coaches and officials who were part of the trips and tabled the number of games they took part in during the Warriors and Young Warriors trips and as well as covering 2008 Premiership champions Monomotapa’s farcical tour of Malaysia in July 2009.

Among the high-profile players who were listed as hyperactive in match-fixing are Warriors captain Method Mwanjali, Thomas Sweswe and Energy Murambadoro while officials such as Sunday Chidzambwa, Ernest “Mapepa” Sibanda and Godfery Japajapa were also listed as being involved.

The scandal claimed the scalp of former Zifa chief executive officer Henrietta Rushwaya.

The alleged mastermind, convicted Singaporean betting agent Wilson Raj Perumal, was previously convicted for match-fixing in 1995.

Hiding out in a London flat near Wembley Stadium, Perumal was a man on the run until his arrest in February.

Perumal was part of a lucrative worldwide match-fixing system, running scams with teams from Finland, Togo, Singapore and Botswana, among others.