HomeOpinion & AnalysisColumnistsAsiagate made mockery of President Mugabe

Asiagate made mockery of President Mugabe

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Another list of names of individuals implicated in the shameful Asiagate saga is expected to be released tomorrow when the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) board meets.

Report by Tangai Chipangura

The list will have names of those that the football mother body will have resolved to banish from football matters for periods ranging between 5 to 10 years.

Fifteen players and officials who received life bans have already been named and stopped, with immediate effect, from having anything to do with football matters in Zimbabwe, while those based outside the country await a Fifa judgment to know their fate.

Local players and officials can still appeal against the Zifa decision, but will have to stay away from football until their appeals are heard.

The move by Zifa to punish the alleged offenders in the manner it did received varying responses from the public.

While others hailed Zifa’s uncompromising whip and in fact literally proposed lynching, others felt life bans were unduly too harsh and destroyed lives of players.

Details of some of the evidence provided by the investigating commission leaves one wondering if Zifa had any option, but to hand down the verdicts it did.

There are those who argue the scam took place at the height of Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown when (allegedly) everyone sought survival through hook or crook, implying therefore that the Asiagate culprits deserve leniency.

My conscience refuses to buy that!

Not (for argument’s sake)when imagination strays to a hot Sunday afternoon, after weeks of anxiety and excitement, and the great national stadium is pulsating with a 60 000 strong crowd — everyone giving everything they have for the Warriors.

And, our “gallant warriors” emerging from the dressing room to rapturous applause — the coaches raising arms over their heads in salute of the loyal support — and yet in the collective hearts and minds of these criminals, they know they are taking all the thousands of people for a ride — idiots that have come to watch a pre-determined match!

It does not matter where the matches took place — Asia or anywhere else. The effect is the same.What we believed were our gallant Warriors could in fact have been a bunch of sellouts who took even the President, Head of State and Government, Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces for a ride.

President Robert Mugabe, on several occasions, hosted the national team at State House and treated them to State banquets before sending them out on national duty — all for people that knew they were going to be playing to lose for their own personal benefit. Sounds treasonous!

What should convince our minds that such people should be given another chance — that they can be trusted again to represent us in the world’s most popular sport?

A few highlights of the inquiry — words coming from the mouths of those who took part in the scandal — suggest that some of our players and match officials discarded all morality and restraint through the window — for money.

One example is The Merdeka Cup in Malaysia — August 20 — 29: This is a tournament to celebrate the occasion of Malaysia’s Independence.  One of the world’s most infamous match-fixers, Wilson Raj Perumal, is said to have been in charge of the team and their welfare — including providing the money for selling the match.

Team officials were treated to “Five Star” treatment including chauffeur rides, drinks and sex. Those who went to the drinks and sex orgy included five top officials and a journalist.

“The people who went to it (drinks) were chauffeur-driven in five cars. The party was at a hotel different from the one the team was staying at. The key officials were “entertained” by 16 women from whom they chose and were provided with a room for use, and people were dashing up and down the stairs.”

Evidence such as this does not put our respected soccer officials in very glowing light.

Raj, who eventually got arrested and jailed is, according to evidence adduced in the Commission’s report, quoted as saying: “Gentlemen, this is a money game.

“You should concede two goals in the first half. I will pay $1 000 for each player and $1 500 for the officials.”

The “gentlemen” did not object and the money was paid in the dressing room at half time as the team played to Raj’s instructions. Raj, according to the evidence, actually sat on the Zimbabwe bench and had literally “taken over as coach” and “everyone got paid”.

In another case involving our Warriors, “a member of the syndicate sat on the bench with the players and wore a Zimbabwean jersey. When the team did not play according to instructions, he took off the jersey he was wearing and stormed off”.

The level of the rot is shocking. It makes it not an easy task to decide to let people go without punishment!

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