Suspended Zimbabwean players based in South Africa will continue to play in the Absa Premiership until world football governing body Fifa takes action, if any, at the conclusion of the Asiagate match-fixing investigations.
This was revealed by South African Football Association chief executive Robin Petersen yesterday when asked on the status of the 13 players in the top-flight league by the South African media.
“We are waiting for Fifa,” he told The Sowetan. “Zifa can’t come to us. We’re waiting for Fifa to suspend the players. Then I can take action.”
The players are the Mamelodi Sundowns trio of Nyasha Mushekwi, Lionel Mtizwa and Method Mwanjali, Thomas Sweswe, Willard Katsande and Zhaimu Jambo (Kaizer Chiefs), Oscar Machapa and Gilbert Mapemba (Moroka Swallows), Khama Billiat and Paul Rusike (Ajax Cape Town), Energy Murambadoro (Wits), Ramson Zhuwawo (AmaZulu) and Kingston Nkatha (Black Leopards).
Previously Sundowns billionaire owner Patrice Motsepe has spoken strongly about match-fixing, just stopping short of saying the players implicated would leave his club.
“We are a high-profile team and a big brand. We have a legal and moral duty not to condone this type of shenanigans. Sundowns must act on this and we have taken the initiative to start engaging those players in the club who were named and suspended by the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) over this scandal.
“It is very important for Sundowns and South Africa to recognise the efforts of our Zimbabwe neighbours in trying to clean up football. We have an obligation to complement that with all that is possible.
“We cannot pretend it’s not there or doesn’t happen, so we must protect our brand and protect the South African image, that is why we are going to deal with this in a serious manner,” Motsepe was quoted saying in the New Age newspaper on Valentine’s Day.
Zifa suspended 99 players and national team coach Norman Mapeza and they all have to appear before the Justice Ahmed Ebrahim-led Zifa Independent Disciplinary Ad hoc Committee to clear their names.
The national association has stated that if any players are found guilty, they will be banned and will ask Fifa to effect a worldwide ban, which is what Safa is now waiting for.
Fifa general secretary Jerome Valcke admitted to being shocked by the decision to allow the players to continue on with their jobs, telling the BBC: “If they confessed, they should not be allowed to play football anymore.
“I don’t want to say that things are difficult in Africa, but sometimes it is quite difficult to get all the papers, to get all the information to have an opinion of all the different parties to make a decision.”
The match-fixing allegations, which have already seen former chief executive officer Henrietta Rushwaya arrested. Current CEO Jonathan Mashingaidze was allegedly extorted of $10 000 in connection with match-fixing investigations which will take centre stage when the Zifa Board meets today.
According to the agenda of the meeting, Zifa president Cuthbert Dube and Mashingaidze will brief the board on progress on the investigations which are supposed to end on April 30 and will be graced by the presence of Fifa head of security Chris Eaton next month.
Eaton will brief Zifa on his last meeting with Rushwaya and information gleaned from a computer that was taken from Zifa offices during his (Eaton) last visit with chief investigator Terry Steans.
The board will also be briefed on preparations for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier return leg against Burundi set for June and the subsequent appointment of Rahman Gumbo as the substantive coach of the Warriors.
Mapeza is likely to be shown the door together with his assistant Joey Antipas.
Gumbo handled the reverse fixture against Burundi last month and while the Warriors lost 2-1, the FC Platinum coach has expressed his interest in taking the job on a full-time basis.
Mapeza’s fallout with Zifa came from media statements where he demanded to know his exact status at the national association — the same issue that coast Moses Chunga his post as Charles Mhlauri’s assistant in 2007.
The board members who are expected to attend the meeting are Dube, vice-president Ndumiso Gumede, board members competitions and finance Benedict Moyo and Elliot Kasu respectively and Eastern Region boss Fungai Chihuri.
Board member marketing Nigel Munyati has of late not been attending meetings after having been taken to task over his handling of the Puma kit sponsorship deal.
Five board members, Kenny Marange, Methembe Ndlovu, Solomon Mugavazi, Gift Banda and Patrick Hokonya will be missing following their suspensions over Asiagate and alleged local match fixing.
Banda and Hokonya will be represented by the deputies Morgan Gazza Dube and Patrick Hill respectively.