29 December 2012

Zimbabwe: Zifa Offer Another Olive Branch

Photo: Confederation of African Football.
Zimbabwe senior soccer team

Bulawayo Bureau — ZIFA have thrown an olive branch to players slapped with fines over the Asiagate match-fixing scam with the football mother body revealing they would accept staggered payments of the penalties ahead of the December 31 deadline.

Ndumiso Gumede, Zifa vice-president, said they had taken into cognisance the difficulties being faced by those players who were ordered to pay fines and had relaxed their requirements to allow the affected individuals to deposit part of the fines and make arrangements with the association's secretariat to pay the balance in installments over a period.

Gumede said about 10 players had paid their full fines by the end of last week through a Harare lawyer.

"A Harare lawyer has confirmed to our legal representative (Ralph) Maganga that 10 of his clients have paid the full amount in fines to the association's bank account," said Gumede.

Gumede also confirmed that a sizeable number of the affected players had started making the part payments through the association's bankers ahead of the deadline.

"Some of the affected players have made part payments, which shows commitment on their part," said Gumede.

The Zifa vice-president said those that had made a commitment to pay would not be affected from playing for their respective clubs and urged all the implicated players to honour the deadline which the association had set for the fines to paid up.

"Such players will be allowed to continue playing soccer but that will only be after entering into a payment arrangement with Zifa which we will expect them to honour within the set time".

Gumede could, however, not shed light on the time frame of the payment plan saying each case would be treated according to its merits.

The fines ranged from US$1 000 to US$6 000, while some players and officials got bans from the game ranging from six months to life bans.

The International Federation of Professional Footballers (FIFPro) has pledged to assist players implicated in the infamous Asiagate scandal to meet payment of their fines.

FIFPro, which sits on Fifa committees, is a worldwide representative organisation for all professional players and has more than 50 000 affiliates.

But there has been on indication yet from FIFPro or the Footballers Union of Zimbabwe on when the financial assistance package is likely to be released.

The two bodies have, however, on the advice of lawyers been telling affected players to use third parties, like clubs, as and when they feel they need to pay the fines so that they don't personally find themselves signing admission of guilty fines that could expose them to possible arrest and criminal prosecution in courts.

By using third parties, the players can then argue that it was the clubs who needed their services, who paid for them to put the matter to rest without them signing what amounts to admission of guilty fines.

Local non-governmental organisation, Panad, fronted by former Dynamos chairman Ignatius Pamire, has already linked one of the players, who was fined without having traveled to Asia, with a lawyer who wants to challenge the process.

Panad will foot his legal costs.

Zifa gave the players an option of fines after receiving recommendations from the Justice Ahmed Ebrahim commission, which deliberated on the second Asiagate probe after Gumede's committee had compiled the initial report.

FUZ secretary-general Paul Gundani said had received complaints from at least three players who allegedly found themselves being handed with 10-year bans despite not being asked to come for the Ebrahim committee.

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