Why African football teams have shunned Zimbabwe
Match fixing scandals in Zimbabwe linking top football officials, players and Asian bookmakers have forced foreign national teams to shun playing the Warriors during FIFA sanctioned friendly match days.
All the other national teams throughout the world will be playing Fifa sanctioned international friendly matches this week, whilst most African team are fine tuning for grueling Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers set to start in September.
Football authorities in Zimbabwe have, in the meantime, launched a probe to weed out suspects and already Zimbabwe Football Authority (ZIFA) Chief Executive Officer Henrieta Rushwaya has been suspended.
Rushwaya, allegedly tried to approach Malawian football consultant Felix Sapao in a bid to also get his home country involved in the match-fixing patterns.
The allegations were contained in a leaked email written by Sapao to Fifa and Confederation of African Football (CAF) officials. “I received a call from Henrieta’s friend…He then told me that he runs a betting syndicate and wanted to talk to four players from TP Mazembe, offering US$150 000 to each of the players and offering me US$300 000. He informed me that he would be able to buy me cars as he had bought Henrieta (a jeep and a Mazda CR9) cars and Kudzi a car (E240 Mercedes).”
Sapao claims in the email that he reported the offer to TP Mazembe coach Diego Garzito and someone from the Congolese embassy in Harare. Rushwaya, in 2008 expressed a desire for political office when she announced her intention to represent Zanu PF in the disputed elections as a parliamentary candidate in Gutu constituency. She later pulled out of the race without giving reasons.
A player who toured with the team on more than one occasion claimed that “a substantial amount of money was paid to players, referees and others”. If the referees “co-operated” they were paid US$20 000 and US$10 000 for the linesmen and players were paid US$1000. Only players in key positions, like goalkeepers and strikers, were approached for betting purposes.
“A striker would be paid not to score, and a goalkeeper would be paid to concede a certain number of goals,” said the senior player, who spoke on condition of anonymity. If players let down the bookmakers, the paid one’s would be hounded.
He added: “Later on, more and more players got involved to an extent that it became common knowledge in the dressing room that games were being thrown. Although it wouldn’t come across as a team thing, the guys would not talk openly about it, but the players’ body language said ‘we are in this together’.”
It emerged that Raj Perumal- who is a serial offender- has previously served a jail sentence in his home country for match-fixing. Raj Perumal- who works for a Singapore-based company called Events and Projects Executive- was jailed 12 months in Singapore in 1995 for match-fixing.
Zimbabwe have since 2007 been playing Oman, Thailand and Syria losing most of the games- even to clubs. And journalists who dared to write negative stories on the trips were banned from any foreign trips by ZIFA (Zimbabwe Football Association).
The controversial Asian matches have affected the Warriors rankings as they are now ranked 110 on the Fifa rankings. It came as no surprise when ZIFA board member in charge of competitions, Bennedict Moyo announced that all the teams they wanted to engage on August 11 had turned down the Zimbabwe’s invitations.
"It’s unfortunate we have failed to attract any team. We wrote to so many teams DRC, Namibia, Mozambique and others but they turned down our offers. The trips to Asia have affected us a lot because our ranking right now cannot help us to attract any team to engage in a friendly international," said Moyo.
A makeshift Warriors side lost 2-0 against the Zebras of Botswana last Wednesday.