Soccer

FIFA graft team heads to Zim

2011-06-22 12:29

Harare - FIFA anti-corruption officials will travel to Zimbabwe next week to help wrap up another damaging match-fixing investigation, the African country's football body said on Wednesday.

Zimbabwe Football Association vice president Ndumiso Gumede said that FIFA's head of security, Chris Eaton, will lead the anti-corruption unit.

The FIFA team will help conclude a drawn-out ZIFA probe which will likely lead to strict sanctions - and possible lifetime bans - for a number of Zimbabwe national team players after they admitted last October to taking bribes to lose matches on tours to Asia.

"They are going to meet people in an effort to bring this issue to finality," said Gumede, who led the internal inquiry for ZIFA. "Appropriate action will be taken on completion of the probe."

Wilson Raj Perumal of Singapore, who is now on trial for match-fixing in Finland, is suspected of also manipulating the Zimbabwe matches.

The Zimbabwe internationals could be the highest profile players so far to be punished in a new wave of crackdowns on match-fixing by football's world governing body.

Investigations are also under way in Finland, Italy, Greece and South Korea - and at a lower level in Malaysia and South Africa - while FIFA says it is looking at a recent friendly between Nigeria and Argentina as part of a wider probe into suspicious betting patterns and possible match-fixing.

No players in the Nigeria-Argentina match are accused of wrongdoing.

Last year, Zimbabwe captain Method Mwanjali and international team mates Daniel Verehmu, Benjamin Marere, Thomas Svosve and coaching team member Joey Antipas all made sworn statements admitting taking money to lose matches by specific scorelines on a 2009 tour to Thailand and Malaysia.

Zimbabwe lost 3-0 to Thailand and 6-0 to Syria and the players said they were paid between $500 and $1 500.

In his statement, Mwanjali also gave details of how a representative of betting syndicates - known to the players as "Raja" - even came to the team's dressing room at halftime to give instructions on how a game should finish.

ZIFA said in last year's proceedings that it was also investigating current Zimbabwe coach Norman Mapeza and about 20 other national and club players and football administrators. Matches on tours to Asia as far back as 2007 were also under suspicion, it said.

However, because of the ongoing investigation, Zimbabwe authorities delayed taking action against the players who admitted wrongdoing.

Mwanjali - a defender with South African topflight club Mamelodi Sundowns - was allowed to continue as captain of his country and led Zimbabwe in its last international, a 2012 African Cup of Nations qualifying win over Mali on June 5.

The only casualty of the scandal so far is Henrietta Rushwaya, who was fired as ZIFA's chief executive for mismanagement. Match-fixing charges against her were withdrawn pending further investigation.

Under FIFA rules, players and officials face fines and lifelong bans from any football activity, including entering any football stadium, in serious cases of match-fixing.

Read more on:    fifa
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