By Staff Reporter
Prominent sports journalist Robson Sharuko, banned for life by the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) for his role in the Asiagate match fixing scandal, says he has been advised by employers and lawyers to shut his mouth for now.
Sharuko and fellow journalist turned Monomotapa FC football administrator Hope Chizuzu were banned for life for allegedly taking part in a match fixing scam that saw Zimbabwe’s national football team lose matches in Asia.
Below we reproduce Sharuko’s reaction to the life ban.
“I know they all want me to go to considerable lengths to say my side of the story, to answer some of the questions that are haunting their minds, to shed some light on the darkness that filtered through their world, to give a meaning to all this.
“They are not walking alone, because that’s the same story with my folks back home in Chakari, but as much as I would like to talk about it, say something about it, I’m sorry that I can’t do it now because my superiors here feel the time isn’t right to do that.
“The lawyers, too, feel it’s premature to do that and, during such sensitive times, only a fool will not take the recommendations of his legal counsel and, as much as I know that there will be many disappointed people today that I can’t discuss that ‘ban’ slapped on me, all I can do is to beg for your understanding.
“It has never happened before in this world, you know, a journalist being banned from football for life in this world by his national association, and so when you break virgin territory, as we have done in this case, it’s important to take every step with caution.
“There is a danger that in anger you end up losing your focus and by opening your mouth, to let loose, you end up making a lot of monumental blunders that are not necessary at this sensitive period of this case which gave Chakari its own version of Black Friday.
“I have never masqueraded as the next Pope, which means I have a lot of flaws as a human being, but those who know me closely know that I’m just a simple guy from Chakari, who loves his Manchester United and tries to work hard for my little family, who look to me as daddy and not as a Senior Sports Editor.
“Time, as it usually does, is the best judge and I hope my good people of Chakari, when the clock that keeps time on my service on this company reaches the 20th year landmark on Thursday, will have cause to celebrate.
Not because I have been here and done that but because a light would have shone through the darkness that enveloped their world on Black Friday and, bit by bit, they will be getting more answers to the questions that have been weighing down on their conscience this week.”
Luke Masomere, who was invited to take charge of a makeshift national team on a trip to Vietnam in November 2007, said Sharuko “would show excitement” whenever in the presence of the betting syndicate honcho, Wilson Raj Perumal, who is now in jail in Finland.
Masomere added: “We used to do our discussions [team planning] in Robson’s room. We discussed about these trips and how rich paying they were. They divulged to me that they had bought cars and built, to completion, their houses [from past payments].”
The Masvingo United coach said he had been told by the disgraced former ZIFA CEO Henrietta Rushwaya not to pick a team or assistants but just turn up at the airport. In his mind, he said, that meant all the players and officials in the travelling party “knew exactly what was happening”.
Once in Vietnam, he said, “Robson and [Godfrey] Japajapa (head of delegation), masqueraded as coaches. Therefore, they were my assistants.”
Zimbabwe lost 3-2 to Finland after having taken a 2-0 lead at the break; lost 2-0 to Vietnam and drew 1-1 with Uzbekistan. The results were pre-determined.
The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) meanwhile issued a statement saying “recent developments in which three journalists were implicated in the Asiagate soccer match fixing scandals are indeed a stain on our profession.”
ZUJ secretary-general Foster Dongozi said “what the three did was tantamount to corruption. The Union’s attitude is of zero tolerance and as such, we call for the speedy conclusion of the on-going processes so that those implicated are subjected to fair and just processes and not private prosecutions,” he said.
“The developments have come as an opportunity for ourselves as a profession, to do some soul-searching about professional and ethical conduct while on duty,” Dongozi said.
“Allegations have been made of prevalence of unethical and unprofessional conduct, including demanding or accepting gifts and money. This should, therefore, serve as a timely reminder that any form of unprofessional or unethical conduct is unacceptable,” he added.
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