'Journalists played for Warriors'

HARARE – Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze yesterday told Parliament that during the peak of the Asiagate match-fixing scandal “journalists earned national team caps”.

Presenting the Asiagate report before legislators at the August House, Mashingaidze claimed that Herald sports editor Robson Sharuko, former Sunday Mail deputy sports editor Hope Chizuzu and ZBC reporter Josh Muntali all played in the fixed matches.

Between 2007 and 2009, the Warriors were involved in questionable friendly matches in Asia which were organised by a syndicate led by self-confessed serial match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumal.

After the details of the scandal emerged, Zifa conducted an investigation led by ex-vice president Ndumbiso Gumede.

After the investigation, the association banned over 100 footballers before pardoning those exonerated for any wrong doing after they paid various amounts of fines.

However, 15 individuals including former Zifa CEO Henrietta Rushwaya, Sharuko, Chizuzu and three footballers Thomas Sweswe, Guthrie Zhokinyi and Method Mwanjali were all handed life bans from football.

At the moment, Zifa is waiting for Fifa to endorse the world-wide bans for the 15 individuals.    

Mashingaidze said the journalists were so corrupt that they would deliberately write rosy stories and incorrectly project the wrong score-lines in exchange for huge sums of money.

"Robson Sharuko travelled a record 15 times to Asia with his trips being funded by Zifa between 2007 and 2009,” Mashingaidze told parliament yesterday.

“His role was to produce very rosy articles in the newspapers where in some instances he would project single digits score lines when in fact the team would have lost by a bigger margin.

“Hope Chizuzu who sometimes runs his stories as sports reporter in the Herald also travelled with Monomotapa in 2008 to Malaysia.

“These reporters received huge amounts of monies as evidenced by the expansive lifestyles they live. Robson even earned a national cap during one of his escapades to Asia.

“Josh Muthali also earned a national team cap in Asia. So it was at such a time that (Cuthbert) Dube assumed office in 2010.

“With no files of who travelled where and who received how much of money and how much did they got.

The Zifa official asked the legislators to craft a law that will enable the country’s authorities to criminalise match-fixing.

“We want the house to criminalize this conduct because no one wants to go and watch a match whose result is fixed. We have over 3800 emails in our possession regarding Asiagate and the communication between Raja Perumal and the media,” he said.

“The repercussions are deep-rooted in our players and the impact of this scandal will be felt for the next 10 years.”

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