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Date: 14 December 2018

  Zimbabwean - Soccer

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News Headlines

ZIFA investigates match-fixing, suspends CEO Rushwaya

[Posted 29 Jul 2010]
[By Brighton Mupangavanhu]
Under-fire ZIFA CEO Henrietta Rushwaya

The Zimbabwe Football Association is in a clean up exercise to try and restore the battered image of national football amid allegations that its Chief Executive Officer, Henrietta Rushwaya is at the centre of a damaging match-fixing scam involving Asian betting syndicates who, it is slowly emerging, organised the national team's controversial sojourneys to Asia in 2009.

A Zimbabwean newspaper claims that Rushwaya has finally been suspended after news of the impending suspension filtered through following a ZIFA board marathon meetingat the weekend, believed to have lasted at least 10 hours, which recommended that the CEO be suspended to pave way for further investigations in the alleged match-fixing scandal.

NewZimbabwe.com states that Rushwaya has finally been barred from entering any of the ZIFA offices at all levels, issuing any official statement or communicatiing with COSAFA, CAF or FIFA as investigations deepen.

The Herald has reported before that even though a decision to suspend Rushwaya as the CEO had been reached over the weekend, Rushwaya had not yet been formally notified of the board's decision. The board listened to a preliminary report from the special Investigations Committee headed by Ndumiso Gumede, the ZIFA Vice President.

The committee, following the initial interviews done with players and the technical team  headed by Warriors Assistant coach Joey Antipas during the ill-fated Asian trip, appears to have given the ZIFA board a damning report about the extent of the involvement of the ZIFA CEO in this scam.

It was reported in local media earlier this week, that some players did not appear comfortable to come forward and volunteer evidence on the Asian trip, amid allegations of intimidation by unidentified sources within the ZIFA set-up who apparently threatened the players that testifying in the probe would signal the end of their international careers.

The ZIFA President Cuthbert Dube has apparently issued a media statement, though it remains unclear whether Rushwaya has finally received the out-standing letter of suspension. The ZIFA Preident  had previously maintained that his association will follow correct procedures in dealing with this matter. In his statement, Dube states that part of the reasons for the immediate suspension of Rushwaya include fears of undue interference with witnesses.

“The decision has been necessitated by alleged acts of mismanagement and the serious irregularities surrounding the national team’s trip to Asia in December 2009.

“The suspension is to facilitate the ZIFA probe team to carry out, among other mismanagement issues, investigations over alleged match fixing, betting and bribery surrounding the national team’s trips to Asia in December 2009.

“This is also against the background that there have been allegations of undue interference and influence on some of the witnesses who are key to this investigation.

“The ZIFA board is determined to get to the bottom of these issues and will endeavour to do the best it can to ensure that the administration of the game of football in Zimbabwe is not brought into disrepute.

“To that end, the ZIFA board will work closely with the Zimbabwe Sports and Recreation Commission, COSAFA, CAF, FIFA and other relevant parties to address its challenges.

“The ZIFA board is not, and will not be perturbed, by any moves aimed at either pre-empting the investigations or defeating the course of justice”, read part of Dube's media statement.

For a long time rumours of match-fixing have circulated around the controversial Asian trip by the Warriors in 2009. It alleged that in December 2009, the shady trip to Malaysia for arranged friendly matches by the Zimbabwe national team, the Warriors, against Malaysia, Syria and a  Malaysian club,  involved matches whose outcomes were pre-determined to benefit rich betting syndicates.

In some of the matches played in Asia in 2009, the Warriors were shockingly beaten 6-0 by Syria, 3-0 by Malaysia and got consolation when they beat a local Malaysian club 3-0 with Nyasha Mushekwi scoring all goals in that match. The 3-0 loss to Malaysia was particularly shocking considering that at the moment Zimbabwe is ranked 110 according to FIFA rankings and Malaysia is ranked 142. While FIFA ranking do not always determine a team's form from time to time, but it is the best indicator of the comparative strengths of teams.

Unsubstantiated and untested claims in local media at the time the match-fixing scandal exploded stated that the players were paid as much as US$1,000, and accompanying Zifa officials were paid more, to fix matches during the Asian tour. 

Rushwaya has for a long time been regarded as a sacred cow of Zimbabwean football. Attempts to bring her to book for alleged misconducts involving ZIFA funds in the past have proved to be just rumours which came to nothing. It has been alleged that Rushwaya's high level connections will always make her immune from the wrath of law amid allegations levelled against her.

It is to be seen if this suspension by ZIFA is for real this time around, or will it prove again to be much ado about nothing as soccer fans witnessed in the past. In fairness to Rushwaya though, at law, the ZIFA CEO remains innocent until proven guilty by either a court of law or by legally a constituted tribunal or disciplinary committee. It is hoped that ZIFA has followed procedure in the reported suspension.

It does appear however, that Cithbert Dube, an experienced business man, is keen on leading his association in following correct procedures in this probe. The nation will wait patiently for the outcome of this house cleaning exercise by ZIFA.

Rushwaya and possibly other ex-ZIFA board members are likely to face the musice for embarking on a trip which was not sanctioned by the Sports and Recreation Commission as is required by the relevant legislation. It is also interesting to note that Rushwaya appears to be the only one facing the music and media attention. One wonders why nothing is being said about the out-gone members of the ZIFA. Is it likely that Rushwaya might have acted alone in this alleged scam? Only time will tell as the truth unfold.

The Warriors are languishing at number 110 on FIFA rankings, and it has been blamed on the ill-fated Asian trips.

That is not entirely accurate though. While that may be partly true, the entire truth about Zimbabwe's fall from the top 100 footballing nations has much to do with poor planning by ZIFA. No meaningful friendly matches have been arranged for the national team on FIFA slots for friendly matches. The Warriors performed dismally during the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, and the team has been inactive ever since they were knocked out of the 2010 Nations Cup qualifying group.

Instead of the country moaning and blaming it all on the Asian trips, ZIFA must arrange for friendly matches and help prepare the Warriors for the upcoming 2012 qualifiers. The probe remains important to the image of the national game, that is granted, but ZIFA must not be side-tracked into forgetting their immediate responsibilities regarding their biggest brand, the Warriors.

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