THIRTEEN football officials and players were on Tuesday banned for life for their alleged involvement in the biggest match-fixing scandal to rock Zimbabwean football, commonly referred to as Asiagate.
Report by Wellington Toni, Sports Editor
The report, released by the Ethics Committee chaired by Justice Ahmed Ebrahim, did not release the names of those found guilty and the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa), who immediately convened a board meeting after receiving the final report, is now expected to announce the names on Wednesday.
According to the recommended sanctions, the 13 were banned for life, seven banned for 10 years each, while 37 players and officials received five-year bans from all football activities.
A total of 25 players received two-year bans, two received two-year suspended bans, six were banned for one year, while a further two had a suspended one-year sentence. One was banned for six months, while a further eight players were cleared.
The total number of players cleared is now 48 after a number of national teams were clandestinely assembled between 2007 and 2009 to travel to Asia for “purposes of match-fixing” for financial rewards.
Justice Ebrahim, flanked by Zifa president Cuthbert Dube and members of his committee, said in a Press release: “We have faced legal challenges to curtail our existence as a committee, in the form of an application for us to recuse ourselves; we have been taken to court in an attempt to stop us from proceeding and there has also been an urgent application in an attempt to interdict us through the courts from continuing with our inquiry.
“From day one, there has been calculated effort for witnesses we have wished to interview in refusing to co-operate.
“We have had to use all our skills to circumvent these machinations and today, I can inform you that we have nine box files containing approximately 4 000-4 500 pages of exhibits and the evidence of some 115 witnesses.
“Corruption in soccer in the form of match-fixing, bribery, betting and the throwing of matches is not restricted to Zimbabwe. I don’t subscribe to the view that the root cause of it is one of economic hardship. I believe the motivating factor is greed and the pursuit of making a quick buck,” the judge said.