THE Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) yesterday made sensational claims in Parliament, alleging that journalists implicated in the Asiagate match-fixing scandal did not only sit on the Warriors bench, but also took part in some of the team’s matches as fresh evidence of the widely-reported scandal emerged.
The association also claimed that Zimbabwe’s 2-2 draw against Tanzania in June that dumped the Warriors out of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations race, could have been fixed by Zifa presidential losing candidate Trevor Carelse-Juul.
The disclosures were made by Zifa chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze when he and his boss Cuthbert Dube appeared before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Education, Sport, Arts and Culture, chaired by Temba Mliswa, at Parliament yesterday.
Women football boss Miriam Sibanda, Mighty Warriors coach Rosemary Mugadza and the association’s media officer Xolisani Gwesela were also in attendance.
Giving his speech on the state of football in the country, Mashingaidze claimed that they had received new evidence that shows that the media personnel implicated in the Asiagate scandal Robson Sharuko (Herald sports editor), Josh Mutali (ZBC) and Hope Chizuzu (Harare City Council media officer) were actually involved more in the fixing of the matches than initially thought.
The journalists reportedly sat on the Warriors technical bench during the team’s suspicious trips to Asia between 2007 and 2010 when the match-fixing scandal came to light.
“The media personnel (sic) that I’m talking of is Mr Robson Sharuko, who is the sports editor for the Herald,” Mashingaidze, who asked for Parliament protection before making the disclosures, said.
“He travelled a record 15 times to Asia with the national team. A record 15 times being looked after by the association [Zifa] in terms of airfares, accommodation between 2007 and 2010.
“His role was to produce very rosy articles in the newspaper where in some instances scorelines were deliberately projected as single digits.
“I would like to also inform the House that Mr Sharuko even earned his national senior team cap when he was part of the team in some of the matches in Asia.”
At which Mliswa interjected: “Are you saying he [Sharuko] actually played in one of the matches?”
Mashingaidze responded: “Yes, he has one national team cap. Reports we got are that he played during one of the trips to Asia.”
Added Mashingaidze: “The other one is Mr Hope Chizuzu, who sometimes fronts his reportage as a sports reporter in The Herald and sometimes he rents out space where he will be demeaning the association’s efforts to protect the values of football.
“Mr Chizuzu travelled with Monomotapa Football Club in 2008 when the team travelled to Malaysia masquerading as the senior national team and they played in national colours.
“And you will find that there was conspicuous concealment of information by the said reporters and they received huge amounts of money as evidenced by the splendour that goes with their lifestyles.
“The third one, who also travelled with the national teams, is Josh Munthali, who also earned a national team cap in one of the trips to Asia and there was deafening silence back home in terms of all these shenanigans.
“I would like to confirm that we have 3 800 emails that we intercepted and those emails have graphic and granular details in terms of the communication between the Asiagate cartel led by Mr Raj Perumal, the former Zifa CEO [Henrietta Rushwaya] as well as these media house captains I was talking about.
“When Dr Dube’s board raised the issue to do with these trips in 2010 when they came to the office, on how the trips were organised, who funded them, how payments were done, who received the monies and who travelled to Asia – records were destroyed and up to now we don’t have a single shred of record until we had to salvage records from elsewhere in terms of team sheets and in terms of payments schedules . . . that so much was paid to Method Mwanjali, so much was paid to Thomas Sweswe, so much was paid to Sharuko.
“Those sums were paid out and records were destroyed. So our appeal at Zifa is that we would want to urge the august House honestly to assist us in terms of criminalising this kind of conduct, which conduct obviously defaces our sport and drives away sponsors because no one would want to come and watch a national team whose players would have been paid huge sums of money to throw a match.
On Zimbabwe’s draw against Tanzania, that ended the Warriors’ 2015 Africa Cup of Nations dream, Mashingaidze said: “One of the contestants in the elections approached the technical team and said ‘I’m going to offer you $20 000’, but we [Zifa] got wind of it . . . and then we said if that money is meant to for the national team of Zimbabwe, it must be paid through Zifa and not from the boot of someone out there.
“And the next thing, the individual disappeared into thin air and we got the result we got at the National Sports Stadium.”
When pressed to reveal the name of the individual, Mashingaidze said: “The name is Trevor Carelse-Juul, Mr Chairman . . . who came up with that offer of $20 000 and when we advised the coach that if that money is meant for the players it should come through Zifa for us to be able to also acknowledge the receipt of the money and thank him, that was the last we heard of him.”