THE Footballers’ Association of Zimbabwe (Fuz) has said it is disappointed by Zifa’s decision to ban some of its members over allegations of match-fixing.
REPORT BY HENRY MHARA SPORTS REPORTER
The professional players’ representative organisation said although it did not condone match-fixing, it felt the punishment imposed on some of its members was “insensitive”.
Four players, Method Mwanjali, Thomas Sweswe, Danisa Phiri and Guthrie Zhokinyi, are part of the group of 15 people who were last week handed life bans from all football activities after being found guilty of taking part in tours to Asia with the Warriors where they played fixed matches.
The rest are officials.
Fuz secretary-general said they were seeking a redress on the issue with Zifa.
“We don’t dispute the composition of the committee who investigated the cases, but we have our reservations on the penalties. We do not condone match-fixing at all, those who are guilty should face the music.
“But we have a problem when the penalty given to a player is similar to the one given to instigators. Some of the players were very young at the time by the way —were acting on instructions from officials and so to give them such kind of punishment is totally unacceptable.
“They should have considered instances on match-fixing in other countries and how they were handled. At least that was going to give them a clue on appropriate penalties. We have cases in Italy where players were convicted of match-fixing involving millions of dollars, but were given six-month bans and made to pay fines,” said Paul Gundani.
Fuz said they have engaged their mother body, the International Federation of Professional Footballers (FIFPro), to find ways they can use to defend the affected players.
FIFPro, which sits on Fifa committees, is a worldwide representative organisation for all professional players and has more than 50 000 affiliates.
“We have been in touch with them. They have been following our case and are very much concerned with what is happening here. We will have a meeting with them at the end of this week.
“We want to get the Zifa report first and go through it and gather evidence, because we have received three cases from players who said they were never called by the investigating committee, but were given 10-year bans.
“We wonder how the committee arrived at such a penalty when the accused were never given an opportunity to give their side of the story. We are appealing to all affected players to come forward so we can see ways we can help them,” added Gundani.