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Zifa say Mapeza warriors job ‘safe for now’

By Dakarai Mashava

HARARE – Zifa says it will not suspend Warriors coach Norman Mapeza over the Asiagate match-fixing scandal, the association’s chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze said yesterday.

Warriors coach Norman Mapeza
Warriors coach Norman Mapeza

Mashingaidze dismissed the possibility that Mapeza and his assistant Joey Antipas will soon become the next scalps of the Asiagate scam, which has already seen over 80 players being indefinitely banned from playing for the national side pending an investigation by an independent commission of enquiry.

Zifa suspended the players who partook in fixed invitational matches in the Far East between 2007 and 2009, pending an investigation by the Ahmed Ebrahim-chaired Ethics Committee.

“Zifa has only made a position on the players fingered in the Asiagate scandal,” Mashingaidze told the Daily News yesterday. “There is no position yet on officials but eventually there will be.

“We are not shielding anyone at all. We are going in a systematic way. In fact they (the coaches) are set to begin preparations for the Burundi (African Nations Cup qualifying) match next week.

“We are playing Burundi at the end of February, which is not far off, that is why preparations have to start next week.”

Mapeza’s job has always appeared safe, at least for the time being, after the former Warriors captain was invited to the Zifa emergency meeting which made the decision to suspend the players.

At the meeting, Mapeza was told he must guide the Warriors to the 2013 Afcon finals if he is to keep his job.

While there seems to be no strong case against Mapeza in terms of his links to Zimbabwe’s match-fixing activities, Antipas has made statements admitting taking money from an Asian betting syndicate.

Mapeza was coach of a Zimbabwe makeshift team which took part in the 2009 Cecafa Cup in Kenya, where games might have been fixed, although no credible evidence to support it has been obtained.

The players must be cleared by the association’s ethics committee, which is investigating the scandal, before they can play again.

Former Zifa chief executive Henrietta Rushwaya, who was accused of being at the centre of the match-fixing scam, was on Thursday arrested by police as part of the crackdown against officials suspected of influencing the Warriors matches in the Far East.

Rushwaya was still detained by last night with indications that she could spend the weekend in police custody. Her lawyer Jonathan Samkange was still trying to secure her release at the time of going to press.

Rushwaya was still undergoing intense interrogation from both the Anti Corruption Commission and police officers who are jointly investigating allegations that the feisty former Zifa CEO pocketed huge amounts of money during the Warriors’ escapades in the Far East.

Rushwaya was alleged to have been central to the match-fixing scam, working with jailed Singaporean Wilson Raj Perumal who is serving a two-year jail sentence in Finland for match-fixing.

Fifa head of security Chris Eaton who visited Zimbabwe last year as part of a global campaign against corruption, implored both police and Zifa to bring to finality the Asiagate scandal. Daily News

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