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Asiagate referee suspended

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One of the referees fingered in the Asiagate scandal, Cosmas Nyoni, has been suspended from Zifa Referees Committee for his alleged role in corruption in a Zifa Central Region Division One football match between Hardbody and Gweru Pirates.

Nyoni officiated in one of the games in Asia which is under investigation by Fifa for possible match-fixing.

Acting chairman of the committee, Ndumiso Gumede — who is also Zifa vice-president (administration) — on Monday confirmed Nyoni, Southern Region representative had been suspended together with the committee’s vice-chairperson Samukeliso Silengane and Central Region representative Cedric Manengedze Raisi.

The three were suspended at a meeting held at Zifa offices in Bulawayo on Saturday, which all three attended.

“The three have been suspended for their roles in the Zifa Referees Committee and that suspension will be ratified at board level at a meeting where I am going to give a full report on Friday.

“We can’t be seen to be trying to clean ourselves when we have some people involved in this in our midst. The committee resolved they be suspended sine die (indefinitely).

“We can’t be custodians of the referees’ bloc and our integrity becomes questionable because of this involvement,” Gumede said.

He said he was due to sign their suspension letters at Zifa offices in Bulawayo on Monday, but there was no legal provision to receive correspondence from his secretary in Harare via fax.

Gumede said allegations leading to the suspension of the three are contained in a recorded conversation, which Nyoni does not deny.

He said when the matter was raised at the meeting, he asked those involved to recuse themselves and Nyoni left the room, but Raisi remained.

“We asked those people who were involved to recuse themselves from the meeting and Raisi remained but I asked him to leave.

“Then after we had deliberated on the issue of the audio conversation, the committee resolved they be suspended. Silengane was sitting beside me as well as my deputy and secretary of the committee (Patrick Marumbi). They were called back and notified of the position.

“Raisi said he was not involved, but he was shown the $200 given to the referee (Albert Mbuse) on the day. Nyoni said he admitted he was involved, but said he was with Silengane, who asked him to appoint the referees, saying there were some football people who wanted the results of those games.

“Nyoni said what we had started was a tip of the iceberg,” Gumede said.

Gumede said Nyoni had asked Silengane to interject if he had said something she did not agree with during the meeting. She did not and she was consequently asked to leave.

The committee then deliberated on her issue in her absence and it was also resolved she be suspended.

Silengane confirmed the suspension, but said she was taken aback as she had instituted the trap leading to the unearthing of the scam by providing the mobile phone used in recording the conversation that nailed the parties.

Although confirming his suspension as well, Nyoni referred this reporter to Gumede. Raisi could neither confirm nor deny the suspension, but said the acting Zifa referees’ committee chairman Gumede was the right person to seek comment from on the matter.

Allegations are Nyoni received $1 000 to give to Mbuse to influence the outcome of the Hardbody match, but the latter was given $200 before the start of the match, which led to part of the recorded conversation.

Mbuse showed Raisi (the match commissioner) the $200 before the match, but the latter did not include that in his report — only to issue an addendum which Gumede and his committee concluded could have been done in retrospect.

The commissioner’s match report was dated October 17 while the addendum was dated October 16, the day of the match.

Hardbody sponsor Takesure Sibanda has already been found guilty of attempted match-fixing by a Zifa Central Region Disciplinary Committee and was fined $1 000 and is expected to pay $800 since the $200 given to Mbuse before the Hardbody/Gweru Pirates match was forfeited.

The Saturday meeting was attended by Sabelo Sibindi (chief instructor), Tendai Bwanya (records and administration), Cainos Mavuna (Eastern Region), one Chipere (Northern Region) Japhet Mfiri (chief match commissioner) and Ndaba Ncube (former match commissioner).

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