The sports and recreation commission in Zimbabwe was ordered to investigate why the national football team had toured Malaysia in December 2009 without official authorisation from the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa). By KHADIJA PATEL
In a 162-page report the commission found a curious culture of corruption had severely infected Zimbabwean football. Dubbed “Asiagate” by Zimbabwean media, it has been found that the Zimbabwean national team as well as a number of clubs that had toured Asia and North Africa between August 2007 and January 2010 were paid to throw the matches they played. The benefactors in this case were Asian gaming syndicates who had paid each player in the Zimbabwean squad between $2,000-$5,000 in cash for each match lost. So rampant was the tradition of losing that last July the Monomotapa Football Club twice impersonated the national team in friendlies against Malaysia and collected their rewards.
But what happened when Zimbabwe in all its guises could not affect the desired losing margin?
In a 2009 CAF Champions League match In Tunisia, Zimbabwean club Monomotapa FC faced off against Tunisian outfit Etoile du Sahel. The Zimbabwean team had been instructed to concede three goals, but the Tunisian team only managed to net two. The bungled attempt at fixing the match resulted in a loss of match-fixing revenue for the players and officials involved.
In response to the report, Sepp Blatter, he of the unimpeachable conduct, has called for all the almost 100 people indicted by the commission to be banned for life. In the meanwhile, Fifa’s head of security Chris Eaton is imminently expected in Zimbabwe to continue with the investigation. DM