HARARE: Match-fixers “within and outside” the Zimbabwe soccer federation targeted games in Africa’s two biggest competitions and in the top league in South Africa, with the former head coach of the Zimbabwe national team one of the “chief suspects,” documents seen by The Associated Press say.
Edzai Kasinauyo, a Zimbabwe Football Association executive committee member, was suspended Tuesday on suspicion of planning to fix Zimbabwe’s two upcoming qualifiers against Swaziland in the African Cup of Nations.
Internal federation documents seen by the AP on Wednesday say players, coaches and other ZIFA officials are suspected of also being involved and more competitions may have been compromised.
The ZIFA documents say Zimbabwe’s games at last month’s African Nations Championship — the continent’s No. 2 tournament — are under suspicion and evidence implicates former national team coach Ian Gorowa, the team’s current assistant coach, Nation Dube, and the former chief executive of ZIFA, Henrietta Rushwaya.
Rushwaya had a life ban from a previous match-fixing scandal involving Zimbabwe’s national team overturned in January. The fact that serious allegations of fixing at the Zimbabwe federation should emerge again so quickly is another blow to soccer’s image.
Current Zimbabwe coach Callisto Pasuwa and 20-year-old national team goalkeeper Tatenda Mukuruva were the whistleblowers, according to the documents, after they reported being approached by the fixers and asked to throw games. Mukuruva said in an affidavit that former coach Gorowa and assistant coach Dube asked him to undergo a “keeper’s course on fixing matches.”
Players were offered $5,000 each for every game fixed, ZIFA believes.
FIFA and the Confederation of African Football, the body that oversees the African Cup of Nations and African Nations Championship tournaments, had been informed of the latest investigation, ZIFA said.
“The facts reported are very serious,” CAF secretary general Hicham El Amrani said in a statement on Wednesday. “We will immediately, in consultation with FIFA, investigate and activate the mechanisms necessary.”
ZIFA said it had “credible evidence” in the form of emails and audio recordings that “directly” implicated executive committee member Kasinauyo in trying to fix Zimbabwe’s home and away African Cup of Nations qualifiers against Swaziland at the end of this month. If those fixes were successful, Kasinauyo would likely try and fix more international games, ZIFA said.
But ZIFA’s internal documents also revealed a larger network of alleged match-fixers, including two other unnamed ZIFA officials, an unnamed Italian national who was described as the “ringleader,” Rushwaya, the coaches Gorowa and Dube, and two Zimbabwe players.
Rushwaya, using her position at the federation, was previously found guilty of fixing games involving Zimbabwe’s team on tours to Asia between 2007 and 2009. That scam was believed to be masterminded by Singaporean match-fixers Wilson Raj Perumal and Dan Tan. Rushwaya only had her life ban lifted in January by ZIFA’s new leadership after it was never endorsed by FIFA.
Gorowa was fired after Zimbabwe lost to Tanzania in qualifying for the 2015 African Cup of Nations. Afterward, he was accused by ZIFA of playing players that should not have been representing the country.
Games in South Africa’s Premier Soccer League were also under suspicion, according to ZIFA’s document. The document named two Zimbabweans playing in South Africa — goalkeeper George Chigova of Polokwane City and defender Partson Jaure of Pretoria University — as also implicated in fixing matches and among the “chief suspects.”