Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Zifa split on how to deal with Asiagate

By Augustine Hwata

SERIOUS cracks have emerged within the Zifa board over how to deal with punishments to be meted out to those found guilty in the Asiagate scandal amid revelations that a militant section of the football leadership is resisting calls for reprimands and wants total banishments.

Cuthbert Dube
Cuthbert Dube

Zifa are expected to drop their bombshell and reveal the identity of the players, coaches and offi­cials they have slapped with bans today. But, that, too, could be deferred amid continued consultations being done by the football controlling body.

The Justice Ebrahim Independent Ethics Commit­tee set up by Zifa in October last year has recom­mended that 13 individuals, whom they accuse of being at the forefront of the match-fixing scandal, be slapped with life bans from all football related activi­ties.

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The Herald can reveal that the implementation phase of the recommendations has split the associa­tion. Sources revealed that the board is divided between those who are pleading for some leniency, especially on the part of the players, and those who have adopted a hard line stance.

Zimbabwe’s most decorated coach Sunday “Mhofu” Chidzambwa, former Zifa chief executive Henrietta Rushwaya, former Zifa programmes offi­cer Jonathan Musavengana, and the South African-based duo of Thomas Sweswe and Method Mwanjali are believed to be headlining the list of those in the line of fire.

But as the Zifa board adjourned on Wednesday with a view to reconvening “soon” it has emerged that there are serious cracks on the manner in which they are should handle the dossier of recommenda­tions submitted to them by Ebrahim.

Sources close to the goings on at Zifa House revealed last night that a militant section led by Zifa board member competitions Benedict “Grinder” Moyo has taken a hardline stance.

It is understood that the camp is fighting against a proposal that the players be severely reprimanded and slapped with hefty monetary fines “rather than end their careers through banning”.

“After meeting for long hours, including their day-night meeting at Pandhari Lodge, some members of the board believe that only the few masterminds should be handed tougher sanctions while the rest of the players, some of whom were just young and naïve, should be reprimanded.

“The moderate members also appeal for heavy fines but allowing the players to continue with their careers.

“The money from the fines could be used to pass off some of Zifa’s huge debts, rehabilitate the players, used for early warning systems and general preven­tion of future match-fixing since nothing has been forthcoming from Fifa financially.

“But the problem those who want to be lenient are facing is that the militant section is led by the likes of Grinder who served a four-year ban from football before and sees this as an opportunity to hit back for what they went through,” said the sources.

In September 2004, Moyo, then the Mighty War­riors coach, was slapped with a four-year ban from football that he served. Moyo was suspended for being among the ring-leaders in the revolt that tried to unseat then Zifa president Rafik Khan.

The Khan-led board also suspended then South­ern Region chairman Leonard Nkala, Pharaoh Jele, Addmore Nyamuramba, Andrew Tapela, Susan Chibizhe, Francis Zimunya, Robert Chisvo and Aaron Munautsi.

Sources also revealed that the moderate board members are fearful of the implications of the ban on the local Premiership. The Castle Lager Premiership could lose a handful of prominent players and this could affect the clubs. Some players are dotted in leagues in South Africa and Botswana.

“The board is also divided on the implications of their actions on the Premiership as there a lot of local players among the group of 80 players that is set to be affected by the bans whether they are for 10 years, five years or even two years,” said the source.

It also emerged that some board members are sell­ing the idea that players who have been found guilty be suspended for a number of matches.

“There have been suggestions too that instead of years, the bans could be in terms of matches because even a 10-match ban is a very long time as players will lose so much in wages and salaries during that period.

“Another sticking point is on when the sanctions should take effect and some had even suggested that Zifa write to Fifa to seek guidance before that was shot down on the basis that Fifa had given the association the greenlight to take corrective action which they would endorse and give it a world wide effect.

“So in reality the ball is in Zifa’s court to decide without allowing individual board members to use Asiagate as a platform to settle personal scores,” the sources said.

Zifa are also likely to face multiple legal challenges to their actions but the association’s president Cuth­bert Dube said they are ready for any of such reprisals. During the gathering of evidence by Ndumiso Gumede, some of the players and officials denied presenting information cited in the report.

There have been accusations that the Zifa board are using the Asiagate report to divert attention instead of facing up and addressing the issues sur­rounding the Warriors’ failure to qualify for the African Cup of Nations finals.

Zimbabwe bowed out of the 2013 finals in South Africa following a 2-0 defeat to Angola in Luanda. The Herald