Asiagate probe compromised?

HARARE - Chris Eaton, the ex-FIFA head of security, says reports that he might have compromised Zimbabwe’s match-fixing investigation due to a “secret affair” with former Zifa chief executive Henrietta Rushwaya are “baseless”.

This comes as a raft of private communications between the ex-Australian policeman and a local scribe-turned-football administrator have emerged, and also alluding to the alleged liaisons between the two, and how this could have possibly clouded the Zimbabwean match-fixing probe.

Following his fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe in 2011, Eaton subsequently met Rushwaya in South Africa and France – in developments widely covered in the e-mail exchange and somehow fuelling suspicions that an illicit affair was brewing between the Fifa-appointed investigator, and the alleged Asiagate mastermind.

“This is a ridiculously untrue rumour,” the International Centre for Sport Security boss told the Daily News from his Qatar base recently.

“If there are documents you have that have promulgated this false and malicious rumour, or you have heard any person say it in your presence, please advise me so that l can consider legal action in Zimbabwe or elsewhere to protect my reputation,” Eaton said in e-mailed responses to this paper.

While the former Fifa security man has confirmed exchanges with the ex-State media staffer and meeting up with Rushwaya in various destinations, he said these were strictly official engagements.

“I exchanged several emails with him and met him on several occasions during the course of the investigation. I have not had any email or correspondence exchange with him since I left FIFA. I had hoped he could help understand who did what and how, but in the end he could not,” Eaton said, adding the latest links and allegations about Rushwaya “looks like the usual attempts to discredit a person when you do not like the message”.

“Sadly, there is a history of this in your country and… specifically on this subject, and not just concerning me.”

Added the Aussie national: “Ms Rushwaya was helping our inquiries on the so-called Asia-gate affair. I met her once in Johannesburg and we brought her once to Europe to help us understand, from her perspective, the relationship Zifa had with Football 4 U and Wilson Perumal Raj (among others). This is normal in any investigation.”

However, a mid-2012 e-mail – allegedly penned by the named scribe-cum-consultant and on Rushwaya’s behalf – seems to suggest otherwise.

“By copy of this letter, please be advised that Zifa are spreading malicious gossip on your person alleging that you are a habitual liar, plus they seem to have got hint that you are now HR’s (Henrietta Rushwaya) boyfriend since your first meeting in Europe last October. Imagine Jonathan and Cuthbert (Dube, Zifa president), of all people! They allege you have been too lenient with her since she became your mistress,” it said.

Further: “Can that be an issue really for a gentleman like you to find love in a beautiful woman? How stupid and scandalous can people be? I just thought I could leak that information to you mate. This has come in the wake of the JHB meeting last Wednesday,” it said.

Eaton, however, denies ever receiving this particular thread, saying: “It is totally untrue, and I have received any such email. I would like to see the email itself, if you have, so that I can investigate the addressee and the header details. This looks like a rather serious attempt to discredit me. But whoever is behind this has not reckoned with my character and my determination to correct any such malicious attack on it.”

In the meantime, Rushwaya has also dismissed the alleged relationship with the ex-Australian top cop as malicious, unfounded and libellous.

Although Singaporean bookmaker and convicted match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumal was regarded as the chief paymaster in the Zimbabwean escapades to Asia between 2007 and 2009, people like Rushwaya allegedly played a prominent role along Perumal’s Football 4 U trading vehicle, which was used to organise various international friendlies between the local national team and others.

On his findings of the exact nature of the relationship between Zimbabwe and Perumal’s company, Eaton declined to comment.

“This I cannot answer. I undertook the investigation on behalf of Fifa, and under terms of confidentiality only Fifa can discuss the investigational specifics of the case that I managed. Of course Zifa and the Zimbabwe police have their own records and opinions. I direct you there,” he said.

Asked if Fifa had made any progress in the probe by the time of his resignation from the world football governing body in May last year, Eaton retorted:

“You are a journalist in Zimbabwe? Then you know how difficult it is in Zimbabwe to arrive at the truth. I am satisfied I know what happened and how. My conclusions were properly reported at the time. And I am a happy person by nature!” - Sports Writer


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