ZIFA, led by Cuthbert Dube, feels vindicated in its bid to clean up the game of corruption after convicted match fixer Wilson Raj Perumal finally lifted the lid on the match-fixing scandal that rocked Zimbabwean football between 2007 and 2009.
Perumal, in an exclusive interview with CNN, said when he made his second contact with Zifa — the first having been in 1997 — he was welcomed with open arms and “we were like two hands prepared to clap”.
After facing a barrage of attacks from the public, players, journalists and former Zifa officials, some who even sued the national association, Zifa have not backed down and the latest revelations from Perumal and former Fifa investigator Terry Steans have clearly vindicated the national association.
Said Zifa chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze yesterday: “We, as Zifa, are vindicated. There was a general belief among people that we wanted to use Asiagate to settle personal scores. Now that Perumal has bared it all, we are completely vindicated.
“We want to ensure that the scandal is closed by January 2015. The match-fixing scandal defaced the integrity of football and we heard from Steans how the scandal impacted on our local football and that impact is still being felt.
“We appeal to all members of the football fraternity to partner us in the fight against match-fixing. The match-fixing scandal was so catastrophic to the extent that even some match-fixing workshops conducted by Interpol and other anti-match-fixing organisations are using Zimbabwe as a case study.”
Steans was in Zimbabwe two years ago with former Fifa chief of security Chris Eaton to assist Zifa with its investigations.
Steans told CNN he was shocked when he was handed a Fifa case file on match-fixing in Zimbabwe in 2009.
“I read that file and thought: ‘No. It can’t be. It can’t be this easy and it can’t be this prevalent, five years later. I know yes it was and yes it is. But that file opened our eyes and it was to set Fifa Security, at that time, on a path to try and discover as much as we could about the fixers and how prevalent and widespread they were.”
On Monday, Zifa responded to inquiries from CNN on the issue with Mashingaidze, once kidnapped over the match-fixing cases, writing: “Zifa is in receipt of your email and hereby acknowledge its contents.
“The Association conducted a series of investigations in connection with match-fixing and illegal betting after our various national teams were exposed to match-fixing and illegal betting by corrupt local football officials and journalists working in close liaison with convicted match fixer Mr Wilson Raj Perumal.
“We are aware that our teams were heavily involved in these fixed games and hence the position we took in suspending players and officials.
“A detailed report has been produced on match-fixing and illegal betting. The association can send you a hard copy of the report through any reputable courier services company. We have not spoken to Raj Perumal, but we are keen to do so. Lastly, we have set up a disciplinary authority which shall deal with cases of match-fixing and illegal betting between September and December. The closure is set for January 2015.”
Wellington Nyatanga was the board chairman between 2006 and 2010 when the horror took place and seems to have been powerless to stop the rot.