Well, most of you, our football enthusiasts who support us at TiF, will have little idea of what I’m just about to bring up for discussion here. But, I urge you to read a couple of more paragraphs, even though the subject matter, and teams discussed may not be relevant to European football. My belief is, like Racism, match-fixing is a big issue in football and one that warrants close scrutiny.
So I will start by giving you a brief history of the subject matter: Between 2007 and 2009, (though it could possibly have been happening before 2007 and probably even after 2009), little Zimbabwe’s national team underwent tours of Asia and lost several games, to team like Malaysia, Jordan and Singapore, teams that even Zimbabwe would be expected to brush aside with little trouble.
It has been established that the players and members of the national governing body ZIFA were paid to lose matches. And in some cases, ZIFA sent local football teams to represent the national team (how fraudulent and twisted is that?). This saga has now been dubbed the ‘Asiagate’ scandal
Like the racism sagas in England, the Asiagate scandal has taken a long time to solve. However, baby steps are now being taken by the country’s FA to administer punishment to those involved. As of March 2012, ZIFA had suspended 98 players pending investigation and now that an independent inquiry is complete, heads have begun to roll.
The former FA chief executive, her programmes manager, former national team coach, ex club coach, former premier league secretaries, a former match agent, former fitness trainer, two journalists and five players have been proscribed with life bans. And according to the national FA’s statements, this is just the beginning.
Sadly however, those on the ban list who are plying their trade outside the country were not immediately affected, because FIFA has yet to extend the ban effected at national level, to international level. Those plying their trade in South Africa, like Sunday Chidzambwa, Thomas Sweswe, still turned out for their respective sides. Mamelodi Sundowns are the only South African side who have promised to go hard on players implicated in the scandal and promised to support Zimbabwe’s efforts to clean up their football.
So what does this mean for football in general? What will be the response of the South African FA? And what, how and after how long will FIFA react to this stiff stance taken by ZIFA?
Match fixing is a big issue, one which all countries should commit to eradicate in football. The example Zimbabwe has set deserves following. The country’s FA has promised further criminal action against those found guilty of match fixing. But will they not be a lone voice? Support is needed from FIFA, from SAFA, and perhaps the English FA too. Perhaps we should start a kick it out initiative for match fixing too, because even though it is racism Europe struggles with, in Africa it is match fixing, and the support of Europe’s big wigs will go a long way.
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