Masomere's cry for freedom

HARARE - Shabanie Mine coach Luke Masomere has been left devastated after the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) omitted him from the list of 57 individuals given amnesty after they were found guilty of match-fixing and illegal betting in the Asiagate scam.

The list of exonerated individuals includes 53 players and four officials. Some were pardoned unconditionally while others had their bans wholly suspended upon payment of fines ranging between $1 000 and $3 000.  

Masomere was slapped with a two-year-ban for his role as caretaker Warriors coach during a tour of Vietnam in 2010, where the Zimbabwean team was paid to lose invitational matches by an Asian betting syndicate.

  “It seems there’s more to it, it it’s no longer about football,” an irate Masomere told the Daily News yesterday.

 “For the record, I’m the one who personally phoned Zifa CEO Jonathan Mashingaidze from Botswana in 2010 telling him how questionable the Vietnam trip was. He told me to talk to (Zifa board member) Fungai Chihuri before they sent (Zifa vice-president) Ndumiso Gumede to interview me while I was coaching in Botswana.

“I was later interviewed three times in Shabanie, Bulawayo and Harare and to be honest, I never got a cent from the betting syndicates, the only payment that I got was $200 from (former Warriors captain) Benjani Mwaruwari after the players had threatened a boycott while we were in Vietnam. So could we say Benjani was also involved in the scandal?”

The former Amazulu, Dynamos and CAPS United coach claims there is a conspiracy against him.

 “What pains me is the fact that I didn’t apply for the Warriors job to go to Vietnam, Zifa approached me and I obliged because of the pride that comes with coaching one’s country as well as the opportunity that I saw to boost my CV as a coach. Little did I know that I was being trapped. These people have been against me so much from the onset and I don’t know why. At times, people could be appointed Warriors coach ahead of me when I was undoubtedly the best coach in town. Instead, they opted for me for a dubious trip. I’m really not happy, but the truth about the matter is that I don’t fear any individual, I only fear God and one day the truth will come out. For goodness’ sake, at this rate I will get killed!”

Masomere’s omission from the list of 57 means a Zifa Appeals Committee appointed early this month is his last hope for freedom. The committee charges an appeal fee of $6 000.

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