ZIMBABWEAN football was thrown into turmoil last night after the Zimbabwe Football Association admitted the national team “played a fixed match under the auspices of a Malaysian betting syndicate” in December last year.
Zimbabwe, playing a second string team, lost to Malaysia 3-0 on December 28, 2009.
Suspended ZIFA CEO Henrietta Rushwaya has been summoned to a disciplinary hearing on Tuesday morning after a probe committee led by ZIFA deputy president Ndumiso Gumede accused her of corruption, financial mismanagement and match fixing in a damning report.
In its findings, Gumede’s committee said Rushwaya “facilitated (and) or allowed the Zimbabwe national soccer team to travel to Malaysia on a trip that had not been approved by either the ZIFA board or the Sport and Recreation Commission.”
Rushwaya will be asked to respond to charges that she “arranged a trip by the national team to Malaysia where the team played a fixed match under the auspices of a Malaysian betting syndicate.”
The charge sheet adds: “The team was paid to lose the match, to the previous prejudice to the reputation of Zimbabwe as a soccer playing nation and to the FIFA ranking of the national team.”
Rushwaya is also accused of facilitating another trip by Premier League club Monomotapa to Malaysia in July 2009 where they passed themselves off as the national team. They played two friendlies losing 4-0 and 1-0. Gumede’s probe team believes the match was also organised by a Malaysian betting syndicate.
After New Zimbabwe.com blew the lead on the deception, the Malaysian FA accused ZIFA of "disgraceful conduct". Malaysian FA general secretary Datuk Azzudin showed reporters a letter from Rushwaya which said Monomotapa -- who played in the national colours -- were the national soccer team.
Further, Rushwaya is accused of applying for a loan of US$103,000 from the Sport and Recreation Commission on ZIFA's behalf “without the authority of the board”.
“... to date, you have not accounted for the same money, neither have you repaid it. The SRC has demanded this money from ZIFA,” ZIFA says in a letter to Rushwaya, detailing the charges against her.
ZIFA also accused Rushwaya of prejudicing it of large amounts of money after signing a contract with a Swiss-based sports marketing agency, Kentaro, giving it rights to all the proceeds from Zimbabwe’s match against Brazil on June 2 this year.
Zimbabwe lost the match played at the National Sports Stadium 3-0, and Kentaro – who manage Brazil’s international television rights – have now demanded US$650,000 from ZIFA. The association says the money is NOT in its coffers.
The ZIFA charge sheet says: "On or about May 26, 2010, you on behalf of ZIFA, signed a contract with Kentaro A.G in terms of which ZIFA literally gave everything away including rights as defined by Article 45 of the ZIFA constitution and got nothing out of a soccer match that was eventually played between the Zimbabwe national team and the Brazilian national team at the National Sports Stadium.
"As a result of your action in binding the national association to this one-sided agreement, Kentaro A.G is demanding from ZIFA, payment equivalent to all the gate takings realised from the said match, money which the national association did not receive in the first place.”
Rushwaya has denied wrongdoing even as Malawian sports consultant Felix Sapao claimed that she had attempted to engineer a meeting between him and Wilson Raj Perumal, who works for a Singapore sports agency, to help fix matches involving Malawi. Perumal has previously served a jail term for match fixing.