The Herald (Harare)

5 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Zifa Hit Back At Pamire

ZIFA have come out guns blazing and have hit back strongly at former Dynamos chairman Ignatius Pamire's threats to drag the association to the High Court if they do not nullify the punishments they meted out in the Asiagate match-fixing scam.

Pamire last Thursday gave Zifa a two-week ultimatum to nullify all sanctions they imposed on the individuals who were convicted of match fixing with the Harare businessman announcing that he now leads a local civic organisation -- Pan African Development Foundation -- which claimed that the football mother body had violated the Fifa statutes and their own constitution in the way they handled the Asiagate scandal.

PANAD, Pamire said were also unhappy with the decision to fine some of the players that Zifa found guilty of match-fixing during the Warriors and other national teams' controversial tours to Asia between 2007 and 2009 claiming the exercise bordered on extortion.

But Zifa president Cuthbert Dube and the association's chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze hit back at Pamire and accused his PANAD of "grandstanding and trying to mislead players".

Dube, who returned home on Monday night from a Fifa 2013 Confederations Cup organising committee assignment in Brazil, said Zifa would not be moved by Pamire's threats and dismissed PANAD's claims that they were in violation of the Fifa and their own statutes.

In his response to Pamire's ultimatum, Dube also told the former DeMbare chairman that Zifa would "not take instructions from his organisation".

"The Zimbabwe Football Association is in receipt of your letter dated 29th November 2012 which was circulated to all media houses, the same day it was delivered to the association and hereby acknowledge its contents.

"The Zimbabwe Football Association would like to first and foremost bring to your attention the following in respect to the contents of your letter:

That there is only one football governing body in Zimbabwe namely Zimbabwe Football Association, which is mandated in terms of the laws of Zimbabwe, the Confederation of Africa Football and Fifa to develop and control football in the territory of Zimbabwe

That the Zimbabwe Football Association is not answerable to non-football bodies or civic organisations

That the conduct of the Zimbabwe Football Association's judicial bodies is governed by Zifa, Caf and Fifa statutes

That the Zimbabwe Football Association reserves the right to choose which well meaning civil organisations to work with on issues to do with social and economic development and not football politics

That no football matter shall be taken to courts by members of the association. Any member of the family of football who does so shall be heavily sanctioned in terms of Zifa and Fifa statutes," read part of Dube's response.

The Zifa president also questioned the legality of PANAD in trying to represent the interests of players, coaches and administrators who were punished by the association following recommendations from the Justice Ebrahim Independent Ethics Committee.

Dube argued that "if PANAD were genuine they should have been active in the prevention of match-fixing.

"Your organisation has no locus standi to lecture Zifa on matters of football statutes. Had your organisation taken such a position during the Asiagate scandal Zimbabwean football would not have slid into the abyss that it finds itself in today.

"Your organisation has no locus standi to represent the interests of players whose transgressions against football are well documented.

"The players know which channels to follow when disposing of their cases. Your organisation has not right to subvert the due process of the association," said Dube.

PANAD, Dube also warned, risked being used as a sanctuary by some "elements bent on circumventing the football channels for any remedy" and maintained that Zifa would "remain relentless and unwavering in the efforts to clean up and protect football in the country".

"Your organisation should not be used by the main characters behind Asiagate to invent a human rights crisis at a time when those implicated in the scandal had been given an opportunity to redeem themselves, let alone apologise to the nation.

"Your organisation should not turn into the surrogate mother of match-fixing and illegal betting syndicates.

"We take exception to your penchant to grandstand your agenda through stage managed press conferences. We would also like to inform you that we take no instructions from your organisation and any body outside of football and hence your ultimatum is misdirected and a confirmation of your little appreciation of who Zimbabwe Football Association is.

"Be that as it may we urge you your organisation not to dabble in 'football politics' and concentrate on your purview as a civic organisation.

"The Zimbabwe Football Association would like to confirm that we shall never be apologetic for unearthing the worst ever scandal in local football and the subsequent conviction of the players and officials accused of selling the soul of Zimbabwean football to match fixing and illegal betting syndicates.

"The association shall fend off antics of rented bodies bent on reversing the gains of our clean up campaign with the contempt that such antics deserve. Zifa categorically affirms its relentless and unflinching resolve to protect the game of football from human greed, corruption and selfishness," Dube aid.

The Zifa president's response was copied to Fifa secretary-general Jerome Valcke, the world body's development manager Francisco Bruscoli, Cosafa, Education, Sport, Arts and Culture minister David Coltart, the Sport and Recreation Commission and Zifa board members.

Mashingaidze said they were also concerned with the manner in which the Footballers Union of Zimbabwe had seemingly drawn battle lines with Zifa over the Asiagate matter.

"This also serves as a warning that any body that is desperate to salvage prominence through the Asiagate scandal should be warned that the full wrath of the football law shall be visited upon and we would also like to warn players from being sweet talked into campaigns that are bent on reversing the gains of the current football establishment in respect of cleaning the game.

"We would also like to warn bodies that are bent on gaining cheap mileage out of a due process which was duly completed by the association's judicial process that they should try their luck elsewhere and not football.

"Our football went through a traumatic phase between 2007 and 2009 and it is high time that well meaning citizens of Zimbabwe and members of the family of football give Zimbabwe the golden chance to recover from the Asiagate holocaust.

"Zifa will be closely monitoring events pertaining to futile attempts by shadowy groups to make football ungovernable and the association shall take such kind of attempts seriously and spare no efforts in making sure that the Asiagate disaster is consigned to the dumping site and that Zimbabwe as a nation full of potential rises from the ashes to claim a place among football's elite members," Mashinagdize said.

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