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Asiagate: Players engage Fifa

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SOME locally-based players implicated in the Asiagate match-fixing scandal will take the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) to Fifa’s Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

REPORT BY HENRY MHARA SPORTS REPORTER

This follows a closed-door meeting between the players and the Footballers’ Union of Zimbabwe (FUZ) which took place in Harare on Tuesday.

But Fifa have insisted that players exhaust all the local judicial procedures before approaching their offices.

Players who attended the meeting told NewsDay Sport that they had sought help from FUZ.

“We had a meeting with FUZ where we requested them to help us fight Zifa on the Asiagate punishments that we were given,” said one player. “We have realised that there are a lot of irregularities in the rulings and we want FUZ to help us engage CAS on the issue.”

CAS is an international arbitration body set up to settle disputes related to sport.

“We feel we were treated unfairly. We have a situation where 20 players went to Bulgaria, but only three have been charged. Where are the other 17 players? We believe there is selective application of the law here. Some of our fellow players who were implicated never went on the said tours and when such anomalies arise we begin to question the whole process,” said another player.

Another player said: “Monomotapa players have also been charged, but they were never called for interviews or hearings by Zifa or even the Ethics Committee. They were just given sentences without the due process. In fact, all the players were not tried or given the chance to follow the disciplinary procedure. And why is it that only local players are affected while our foreign-based colleagues continue to play?”

When asked why the players had decided to bypass the Appeals Committee that was set up by Zifa, another player said: “We have lost confidence in this whole circus. The appeals fee that Zifa is asking for is just crazy.”

Zifa has pegged the appeals fee at $6 000 which should be paid by tomorrow. FUZ are understood to be in the process of engaging Zifa although the association has said they would not entertain anybody on the Asiagate issue.

A purported local civic organisation — Pan African Development Foundation – also wrote to Zifa last week threatening to take the association to the High Court if they did not nullify the punishments meted on the players, but Zifa chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze on Wednesday warned those who would use processes outside their jurisdiction that they would face the full wrath of the organisation.

A total of 53 players and four officials have been exonerated from the scandal. Some have been pardoned, while others had their bans wholly suspended upon payment of fines ranging between $1 000 and
$3 000.

Some of the players and officials who received life bans include the alleged mastermind of the scam Henrietta Rushwaya, Jonathan Musavengana, Guthrie Zhokinyi, Edmore Sibanda, Danisa Phiri, Kudzai Shaba, Thompson Matenda, Godfrey Japajapa, Rodwell Dhlakama and Emmanuel Nyahuma.

From those handed 10-year bans, Taurai Mangwiro appears to be the only one who has paid his appeal fees.

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