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Date: 28 July 2017

  Zimbabwean - Soccer

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Musona quits Warriors in protest!

[Posted 04 Jul 2012]
[By Beezsports Editor]
Sad day for Zimbabwean football as Musona quits the Warriors in protest over ill-treatment
Sad news coming from Zimbabwe is that the country's leading light Germany-based striker Knowledge Musona has announced his immediate unavailability for the senior national soccer team selection, the Warriors' selection in protest to the FA's sensationalized match-fixing allegations against the player.

Last month in an act of unproffesionalism and in a poor public relations stunt, the Zimbabwe Football Association's CEO Jonathan Mashingaidze was quoted by the media in Zimbabwe accusing Musona, Ovidy Karuru, Thomas Sweswe and Zhainu Jambo of match-fixing before the Burundi AFCON match.

The basis for the allegations? According to Mr. Mashingaidze's 'learned opinion' the players stood accused of match-fixing because they were apparently seen at the offices of fired ZIFA CEO Henrietta Rushwaya whose criminal charges emanating from the match-fixing allegations were inexplicably dropped by the state this year.

At the time the sensational allegations made headlines in the country prior to the important Burundi match, Mashingaidze alleged that Zifa's intelligence operatives had spotted the four players at Rushwaya's offices and was convinced that the players were at the premises for match-fixing.

Now, Musona, speaking through his lawyers, is demanding an unqualified apology from Zifa and the clearing of his name, which should receive the same publicity that the allegations  received, without which he will not honour any national team call-up.

The following are the detailed demands from Musona's lawyer Misheck Hogwe of Hogwe, Dzimirai and Partners, in a letter addressed to Zifa, contents which have been published by the NewsDay of Zimbabwe.

“On or about 13 June, 2012, your good office was widely quoted by
numerous media as having insinuated that our client could have been
involved in match-fixing in the games against Guinea at home and
Mozambique away.


“In subsequent publications, your good office was also quoted as having
said the matter had been referred to Fifa. This was despite that nobody
from your good office had bothered to afford our client any kind of
audience whatsoever. Our client’s position is that the allegations were
baseless and most unfortunate, but he will not pre-empt a due process.


“Our client has instructed us to advise your good office that he shall
not be available for selection for duty with the Warriors pending
‘investigations’, which apparently have not commenced to date (since he
has not been interviewed).


“In the event that our client is cleared by any investigation(s), he
would only be available for national duty on the following conditions:

a) That your good office proffers an unequivocal apology and ensures
that such apology is given equal or better prominence by the media; and

b) That your good office communicates in writing with Fifa confirming
our client’s clearance and furnish us with a copy of such communication.


“Our client has adopted the foregoing position on account of
immeasurable and probably not so reparable damage the grave allegations
will potentially have to his career advancement if the matter is not
disposed of expeditiously.

"Our client will, therefore, expect your good
office to move with speed in bringing the matter to finality.


“Please be guided accordingly and note that any communication to our
client should in relation to this issue be through our office,” read Hogwe's letter to Zifa.

Musona, despite the humiliation occasioned by the unfortunate outbursts from Zifa's Mashingaidze, remained calm and focused on the work at hand, the Burundi match, underlining his maturity and commitment to his country.

The TSG Hoffenheim striker scored the only goal of the match in Zimbabwe's narrow 1-0 victory of the Swallows of Burundi on 17 June, a result achieved after the team had to endure playing for about 60 minutes of the match being a man down after Willard Katsande's dismissal.

Ironically, it was Musona's strike in the reverse fixture in Bujumbura earlier on 29 February which ensured that the Warriors sailed through to the final 2013 AFCON qualifier on an away-goals rule after the teams were tied 2-2 on aggregate.

This (Musona) is the player that Zifa accused of having been mercenary to the cause of his motherland, an allegation which should surely hurt! Anyone in Musona's shoes would have responded to the serious insinuations which have potentially to scare away potential suitors, in the same manner.

A football career is such a short profession, and in the world of soccer where match-fixing has been prevalent even in the corridors of football powerhouses like Italy, Turkey, even England, perceptions about how corrupt a player can certainly cause irreparable damage to a player's reputation and future.

Even the Minister of Educations, Sports and Culture David Coltart recently castigated Zifa for their uncouth approach to what they might have suspected as having been something untoward by their players.

No-one is saying that Zifa should not play their role in protecting the interests of the game in the country from the cancerous match-fixing scepter which has threatened the game's moral and ethical fibre.

The problem with Zifa officials, especially of late, its CEO, is that they have not spoken or responded to issues like real leaders are expected to do. Rather, some individual Zifa board members appear to be acting like politicians and not good administrators, grabbing every chance to make a comment on match-fixing allegations, as an opportunity for grand-standing opportunity.

The result of all this is that no sane sponsor would love to be associated with people who shoot their mouth in the wrong direction every time in the name of defending the game, when all they are doing is destroying the very game they purport to be protecting. We are also in danger of having our key players losing interest in representing their country. Musona's stance could just be the signal of many withdrawals to follow.

The Zifa board has adopted a very unhelpful attitude of late and they do not seem to realise how much damage they are doing to the very soccer they think they are trying to build and protect.

They (certain individuals at Zifa) have become hyper sensitive to issues, with a trigger-happy characteristic becoming part of their culture of late.

Everyone who raises concerns with the tone of Zifa's public utterances or anyone who criticises their decision-making is labelled as an enemy of change, if not a critic sponsored by Zifa's detractors who are running scared of Zifa's fight against match-fixing in Zimbabwe.   
There is surely a better way of handling challenges in Zimbabwean football. No-one is saying that Zifa should turn a blind eye to conduct by players which can sabotage the Warriors squad, but Zifa could surely have handled the alleged 'match-fixing' leveled against Musona and Karuru differently.

What did it help for Mashingaidze to rush to the media and make sensational accusations against the very players the country would expect to fulfill a national duty, especially given the timing of the public utterances?

Even if Mashingaidze and Zifa's suspicions are to be found to have any basis later, which remains very doubtful, the end does not justify the means. There is need for what is called procedural fairness, and someone must educate Zifa about that legal concept.

Zifa treated Musona and the other players with disdain, and they should be careful that they could be hit with a lawsuit if their allegations are to be found to be baseless.

Every person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Allegations or suspicions against such people should therefore be handled with maturity and the necessary sensitivity which accords with the presumption of innocence.

At Zifa, things appear to be done differently to the norm in the entire world. A player is presumed guilty of match-fixing suspicions until he clears his name with the Ahmed Ebrahim Ethics Committee, without which they will remain suspended.

While at law, all of those players are innocent because no match-fixing has been proved against them, question marks remain hanging over the players' integrity as professionals.

We all know that in the real business world perceptions can be stronger than reality. These Zimbabwean players who are suspended by their association are laboring under the weight/burden of perceptions that all players suspended on match fixing-allegations are "unclean".

To make matters worse for the players implicated in the so called Asiagate scandal , the process of finalising the hearings into match-fixing allegations is taking forever to be completed.Soon it could be a matter of justice delayed is justice denied.

Unfortunately for Zimbabwean football, the carelessness in terms of public utterances has not been restricted only to the trigger-happy CEO. Even the Zifa President Cuthbert Dube has made insinuations that the suspended players are "not clean".

While addressing players during the send-off for the AFCON 2013 qualifier first leg against Burundi in Bujumbura, Dube told the players that they were in the squad because "you are clean" and adding that there was no place for unclean players in the squad, implying that all suspended players were "guilty" until they prove that they are innocent.

It should be submitted that Zifa's approach as discerned from their public utterances is a departure from the norm in any world where there is the rule of law.

A person is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and not the other way around. If anything, the onus to prove wrongdoing is on the one who alleges that a rule has been broken. It is not for the one who is alleged to have broken a rule to rebut a presumption of guilty!

To express your views on this article or anything connected to this article, please write to the Editor at: murbright@gmail.com  or brightonm@beezsports


   


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