Comment: Zifa deserves thumbs up on Asiagate probe


For the past four years, Zifa has been in the limelight for the wrong reasons.

The previous board, led by Wellington Nyatanga, proved powerless to run the game and stands accused of allegedly selling the soul of the nation through match- fixing.

This is the scourge that has affected football since the day Monomotapa decided not to fulfil their league match against Highway in Mutare on that fateful afternoon in 2009 that gave away the match-fixing scandals.

Three years down the line, two reports have been produced on the dirty deals detailing the trips that officials, journalists and players were involved in, leading to the suspension of three officials.

Under very difficult and sometimes life-threatening circumstances, Zifa has started on the road to football rehabilitation and the visit by Fifa head of security Chris Eaton and his chief investigator Terry Stean is testimony of the wonderful job that the new Cuthbert Dube-led Zifa board has done.

Even Eaton, during his visit to Zimbabwe, from Saturday to Monday night, acknowledged the steps taken by the national association and pledged the world football governing body’s support to see justice carried out.

And now what is needed is the support of all State organs in unravelling this scam and the police have already taken the lead.

Three Dynamos stars were quizzed by detectives in May as police began a major investigation into match-fixing allegations.

Washington Arubi, David Kutyauripo and Guthrie Zhokinyi were the first players to face investigators from the CID Serious Fraud Squad and many more will still be called in to give their side of the story.

The Sports and Recreation Commission (SRC) is the supreme sports body in the country and most, if not all, the trips took place without their knowledge.

Without proper legislation in place to deal with match-fixing, one wonders why the Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture David Coltart has been silent about pushing for such legislation, save for calling for the police to step in.

Instead, it has been Kambuzuma MP Willas Madzimure who has pushed that motion in the House of Assembly to investigate Asiagate via the setting-up of a commission of inquiry.

In March, it was perfectly legal to fix sports games in Bulgaria since it was not against the law. Now it attracts a minimum penalty of $3 000 plus six years in prison if one is found guilty under the penal code system. Zimbabwe can take a cue from that.

Fifa has been unequivocal about life bans on all involved, although an olive branch exists where confessions can be used to mitigate the punishments to be handed down by the disciplinary committee.

And while there are obvious loopholes in the second Asiagate report, it goes without saying that none of the perpetrators ever thought the investigations would reach these levels, nor that Eaton would ever visit Zimbabwe.

But for now, Zifa must get the kudos for a job well done as they take to cleaning up the world’s “most beautiful game”.