Zifa needs to hear Asiagate appeals: Fifa

HARARE - Zimbabwe has been told to put a proper appeals process in place to allow those banned in the Asiagate affair the chance to clear their names if they wish.

Fifa has told the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZIfa) it must allow the 15 officials and players handed life bans two weeks ago a chance to appeal against their sentences.

This also affects the 64 others whose bans, ranging from six months to 10 years, are due to be announced this week, including six players based at South African clubs.

Zifa had initially said an appeal against the bans would have to be made at the Court for Arbitration in Sport, which is based in Switzerland and which does not take on cases without the payment of a hefty deposit, usually in the region of R200 000.

But Fifa has said the Asiagate players must be allowed to appeal through Zifa’s internal disciplinary structures, which according to their statutes includes an appeals board and an independent arbitrator.

In a letter from the Fifa legal department this week, officials are seeking assurances that proper procedure has been followed by Zimbabwe before it will extend the bans worldwide.

This will grant those based at South African clubs a temporary reprieve as Fifa is unlikely to extend the Zimbabwe bans worldwide until completely satisfied with the matter, allowing the affected players to continue in South African club colours for a while longer.

Zifa had commissioned an extensive board of investigation, headed by a retired judge, to look into the match-fixing allegations. It uncovered widespread cheating by Zimbabwe teams on tours to Asia between 2007 and 2009.

Former Zimbabwe coach Sunday Chidzambwa stepped down as Black Leopards boss this week as a direct consequence of the life ban he has been slapped with.

Leopards said the Asiagate affair was overshadowing his effectiveness, although they did make a spectacle of showing their public support for him.

Also banned for life are Mamelodi Sundowns defender Method Mwanjali, who has not played for the club since the ban, and Thomas Sweswe, who has featured for Wits in two games since the announcement of the sanction.

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