by GARIKAI MAFIRAKUREVA
THE three Ghanaian football players who had been stranded in Chiredzi for about six months finally flew back home yesterday following the intervention of Zifa and Footballers Union of Zimbabwe (FUZ).
The trio spent the greater part of the year holed up in Chiredzi after Zifa Masvingo officials, Tinashe Gomba and Energy Zava masquerading as football agents duped them to come to Zimbabwe and fleeced them of their money upon arrival.
The three — Peter Tibila (24), Francis Adjetey (23) and John Adu Poku (22) left for Ghana yesterday. The fourth Nelson Adenyo (23) —managed to fly back before the COVID-19 lockdown, while the fifth, Ahmed Abdul (24) is still in Zimbabwe after Zifa Eastern Region Division One outfit — Chiredzi Stars FC processed his papers after learning of his plight.
They had been promised contracts with Khaya Africa — a non-existent club which would supposedly pay them signing on fees of up to US$10 000, monthly salaries of $2 000 and winning bonuses amounting to $500, before the ‘agents’vanished.
The players had to survive on sugarcane until well-wishers chipped in.
FUZ chairperson Desmond Maringwa posted on the FUZ Twitter handle that they had partnered with Zifa in assisting the players.
“Coming together of football stakeholders to make a difference. FUZ and Zifa have come together to assist three Ghanaian footballers who have been stranded in Zimbabwe since the start of the induced lockdown after being cheated by a fake agent,” read the post.
According to Adjetey, FUZ and Zifa came to their rescue after pleas from Professional Footballers Association of Ghana (PFAG).
“We are finally going home. We were screened for COVID-19 before we boarded a plane to Ghana. We would like to thank FUZ and Zifa for their efforts to ensure we are back to our families.
“Last month, we received $9 000 for foodstuffs and rentals from Zifa. We would like to thank them for coming to our rescue. Special mention should be given to the owner of Lowveld Pirates who looked after us for over six months. We are however, yet to get back our money from Zava and Gomba after Zifa ruled that they should pay back our money. We hope Zifa will pursue the matter to the end,” said Adjetey.
Gomba and Zava were last month banned from football matters for five years for violating Zifa’s rules and regulations as well as putting the name of the organisation into disrepute. Zifa said their actions had an element of forgery, fraud and human trafficking after misrepresenting themselves to the footballers. The duo was also ordered to pay US$1 300 to each of the four Ghanaians in cash.
The matter came to light when NewsDay Sport broke the story in April this year.
In passing the ruling, the disciplinary committee noted that the two Zifa officials had committed a heinous crime.
“The deeds of the accused persons are no different from the criminal contact of human traffickers. Young and innocent footballers between the age of 23 to 24 years of age were plucked from their families and homes and further swindled of money through elements of misrepresentation, fraud and forgery and dumped in a foreign land without proper accommodation, medical aid or care and turned into beggers in a foreign land,”
“The first and second accused persons are ordered to contribute equally in restituting US$1 300 to each of the following Ghanaian players; Nelson Atsu Adenyo, Peter Tibilla, Francis Adjetey and John Adu Poku. A total of US$5 200 to be given in cash within 30 days of the issuing of this order,” reads part of the judgment.