The Herald (Harare)

17 November 2012

Zimbabwe: Sharuko Appeals Life Ban as Fifa Invite Him to World Cup

Herald Senior Sports Editor Robson Sharuko yesterday filed his papers with the Zifa Appeals Committee challenging the decision by the association's board to slap him with a lifetime ban from all football-related activities in this country.

Zimbabwe Newspapers, the parent company that Sharuko works for, is backing the journalist's appeal, to have the ban imposed on him overturned, and paid the US$6 000 appeal fee that he lodged with Zifa yesterday. The payment of the appeal fee was duly noted by Zifa and a receipt, for the sum of US$6 000, issued by the association yesterday.

Harare lawyers, Chirumuuta and Associates, have been instructed by Zimbabwe Newspapers to handle Sharuko's appeal process.

The journalist was slapped with a lifetime ban from all football-related activities by the Zifa board on the recommendations of their Independent Ethics Committee led by retired Supreme Court judge, Justice Ebrahim, on October 18, this year, over the Asiagate match-fixing scandal.

Sharuko declined to appear before Ebrahim's committee on the advice of his legal team, highlighting the possibility of a conflict of interest for the retired judge who also holds the role of Ombudsman at Alpha Media Holdings, publishers of NewsDay.

In their letter to the Zifa Appeals Committee yesterday, Chirumuuta and Associates, said they were "appealing against the whole decision of Zifa to ban him (Sharuko) from football matters for life."

In their grounds of appeal, tabled in their letter, Chirimuuta and Associates said:

l The Zifa board and ad hoc committee grossly erred in convicting the Appellant without charging him and moreso, not even conducting a disciplinary hearing to hear the matter.

l The ad hoc committee erred in recommending the life ban of the Appellant without affording the Appellant fair opportunity to be heard by an impartial committee which was not biased against him.

l There was no proper evidence led against the Appellant to warrant his conviction as concerning match-fixing in the Asiagate scandal.

l The evidence, if at all there is any, was not admissible as it was hearsay.

l The sentence of a life ban imposed on the Appellant is too harsh, to the extent of inducing a severe sense of shock.

l The sentence imposed is too excessive compared to other punishments which have been imposed in such circumstances in football jurisdiction.

l There was no mitigation or a chance availed to the Appellant to submitting mitigating factors hence the sentence imposed is arbitrary and unjustified.

"We therefore submit that the Appellant must be acquitted of any match-fixing conviction and the whole sentence quashed.

"Kindly note that this appeal is being noted without the privilege of having gone through the transcribed record of proceedings of Zifa and the Ad hoc committee, hence the Appellant reserves the right to submit a supplementary and more detailed Grounds of Appeal.

"Also find attached, hereto, a receipt indicating that the Appellant has paid the Appeal fee of USD6 000, as indicated by Zifa board."

The Harare lawyers also attached the latest communication from world football governing body, Fifa, inviting Sharuko, as part of their accredited crew of global journalists, to cover the Fifa World Club Cup in Japan next month.

"On the other hand, we kindly advise that the Appellant is still receiving invites from Fifa to be accredited to cover Fifa tournaments, the latest being an invite on the 16th of November 2012, to cover the Fifa World Club Cup in Japan, which indicates that the Appellant is still recognised by Fifa as a bona fide journalist besides the sanctions imposed by Zifa," wrote the lawyers.

"With this same letter, we kindly request the full transcribed record of proceedings which led to the Appellant being banned by Zifa."

Fifa advised Zifa last month that, on face value, national associations have no jurisdiction to slap sanctions on journalists.

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