21 February 2013

Zimbabwe: Parly On Asiagate

A parliamentary portfolio committee has called for expeditious conclusion of match-fixing allegations levelled against officials and soccer players so as to bring finality to the Asiagate scandal that rocked the country"s football landscape in recent years. Portfolio Committee on Education, Arts and Sports led by Dorothy Mangami (Zanu-PF) yesterday tabled its report before the House of Assembly after a year long investigation in which they summoned several stakeholders in the football fraternity to testify on the Asiagate.

In their observations and recommendations, the committee said match-fixing must be immediately exposed whenever it occured.

"Football stakeholders in Zimbabwe were very much concerned with the calling of players for Asiagate matches by the then chief executive officer Henrietta Rushwaya instead of the technical team," read the report tabled by Mangami.

From evidence they gathered from the Zifa Referees Committee, some people who benefitted from the Asiagate scandal were harassing and intimidating those who tried to bring order to sport so as to jeorpadise the administration of justice.

"A case in point is that of the vice-president of Zifa, Mr Ndumiso Gumede who had to put on a dress to run away from the police," said Cde Mangami.

Zifa, said the committee, was not happy with the way police had handled the Asiagate scandal.

One case in point was when Monomotapa returned from an unsanctioned trip from Malaysia, the mother body had problems with players almost assaulting officials and that was reported to police but nothing was done four years down the line.

"Zifa brought this matter to Commissioner General Chihuri and mentioned that there is something wrong with the force. In response, Comm Chihuri told Zifa that no matter would be swept under the carpet and that it would be resolved, but nothing has happened ever since," she said.

"The committee noted that from the evidence they got, several stakeholders such as the Premier Soccer League and Zimbabwe Soccer Coaches Association were concerned at the frequency in which the Zifa Constitution was being amended by each executive that would have come into office.

"The committee was informed that Zimbabwe football administration leaves a lot to be desired as it is not run properly. For example, whenever a new board comes into office, the first thing they do is to change the constitution so that it suits them. From 2004, the constitution has been amended four times due to personality interests," said Mangami.

The PSL told the committee that Asiagate matches were held haphazardly and were threatening to disrupt league matches as teams with players involved would request for a postponment. Parliament was told that when PSL directed that it would only postpone matches that fell within Fifa calendar, organisers of the Asiagate matches pleaded with the league executive to let their clubs give them fringe players. One such example was when the PSL declined to postpone a league match pitting Monomotapa with a Mutare club, the match was awarded to the Mutare club as a walk over after Monomotapa failed to attend, preferring to fuilfil matches in Asia.

"There was no further punishment to Monomotapa. What was also percuiliar was the issue of head of delegations, they were just travelling. In terms of a standing Zifa council resolution, there was supposed to be a roaster of councillors who will be travelling to accompany national teams. Now there were people who were regular travellers there," read the report by the committee.

Poor remuneration of players and low fees paid to referees were cited as some of the reasons that attracted people to participate in Asiagate.

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