26 October 2012

Tanzania: Time We Got Serious On Match Fixing Claims


LOCAL football is in a sort of turmoil following a series of claims that suggest rampant match-fixing and bribery; especially at league level. Yet no action has been taken and the malpractice goes on with impunity.

It is in contrast to other parts of the world where most celebrated players, clubs and officials have been banned from football for helping fix matches. Such action seems a taboo in Tanzania. Regularly, soccer fans have been hearing about players, mostly from Simba and Yanga, being accused of sabotage, especially when the two teams clash but such claims come to pass unchecked.

Players have been accused of receiving kickbacks to influence results, a fact which points to deep-rooted scandal in local football, which risks bringing the league and football into disrepute. Recently, Simba legend and Kagera Sugar coach Abdallah Kibaden dropped a bombshell, claiming that the Mainland Premier League is being doted with rampant corruption and match fixing.

Poor refereeing for one, is one of the major causes of the 'King's' concern. Repeatedly, local referees have been linked with several match-fixing incidents, which include allowing dubious goals, penalties and denying clear goals against poor and weak teams. It should be noted that referees have their (bad) off-days.

But all this would probably not have mattered if the local refereeing had been competent enough to warrant protection. It remains to be said that Kibaden's view on the extent of corruption in the local league deserves to be treated seriously. In fact, he is entitled to air his views on how unsatisfactory he considers the standard of refereeing to be.

Kibaden's concern was far from unique. Several other critiques of the game found it very unusual that at some point, losing teams usually conspire to lose where rigging is involved. Search for an explanation for all this leads to suggest, without a shred of evidence, that match-fixing might have been involved.

If such claims are anything to go by, the local football administrators, TFF, criminal prosecutors and anti-corruption organs have enough reason to immediately launch thorough investigations. Such corrupt tendencies hamper the progress of sport as it goes against all principles of fair play. It is, therefore, important that a criminal investigation into these malpractices is urgently launched and those found guilty brought to book.

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