Zifa in race against time

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The Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) has said they want to conclude the Asiagate match-fixing scandal probe before the end of this year, as they struggled to name the long-awaited Ethics Committee.

The committee is to be renamed the Zifa Disciplinary Ad-Hoc Committee after its commissioning. The Zifa Board meets on Friday to finalise the appointment of the committee.

Speaking at a Press conference in Harare on Monday, Zifa first vice-president Ndumiso Gumede said the match-fixing scandal which has rocked the country should be put to rest as soon as possible.

Gumede said the committee will comprise of a retired judge, a retired police commissioner, lawyers and football administrators.

“We are cognisant of the delay in dealing with this matter of coming up with the Ethics Committee (Zifa Disciplinary Ad-Hoc Committee). Part of the delay is that we had to consult the persons whom we think ought to serve in it. Once they have been assembled together and briefed on what is expected of them, they will of course use their time. It might be two days, three days to read through the report and it will be absolutely up to them to be as expeditious as possible, but as a Zifa board we don’t expect this to spill over to next year,” said Gumede.

Eaton also said he wanted to see the matter dealt with, with the urgency it deserved.

“I would encourage any official, any player and administrator who has information that can help us to come to the bottom of the truth of this matter to come forward now whilst they can. This might be of great assistance to what may or may not happen to them afterwards. We need to get to the bottom of this. We need to finish this and move on. We need to make sure that this (match-fixing) will never happen again.”

Fifa head of security Chris Eaton who arrived in the country on Saturday in a bid to get to the bottom of the match-fixing scandal and accompanied by the world football governing body’s investigations officer Terry Stean, also presented their recommendations to Zifa at the same media conference.

The tough-talking Eaton said Fifa is not in a position to recommend penalties, but said he would want to see those who would be found guilty to face stern sentences that range from life bans, imprisonment to long-term suspensions from football activities.

“People who are fixing matches are criminals who do not deserve respect or sympathy. What Fifa wants to see is consequences, real consequences for match-fixers depending on the magnitude of the offence to football,” said Eaton.

He however said it was up to Zifa, through their independent Ethics Committee, to decide on what to do with those who would have been found guilty of any offences during the four years the local game was tainted by match-fixing allegations in the Warriors’ farcical trips to Asia.

Zifa board member Elliot Kasu, part of the investigating team on Asiagate, said there would be no sacred cows.

“At Zifa, we have said there is zero tolerance and everyone involved in this scandal has to answer. Our policy as Zifa board is that we want to cleanse football so that all stakeholders can join it freely. We want sponsors to come back again to football in Zimbabwe. We always say if you want a visitor to come at your house what you need is to clean your house first. The same thing applies to us. We have to clean our own institution. It’s a management change and it’s a process which I know will be met with a lot of resistance, but we are prepared to soldier on and make sure that football gets its number one status in Zimbabwe,” said Kasu.