Ricky Zililo, Senior Sports Reporter
HERENTALS FC have reason to smile after the Premier Soccer League (PSL) disciplinary committee acquitted them of match-fixing allegations levelled by Bulawayo Chiefs.
The scandal had sucked in Bulawayo City FC official Eddie Chivero who is now accusing Chiefs of embarking on a smear campaign meant to tarnish his image.
Chiefs had alleged that Chivero approached their coach Thulani Sibanda on behalf of Herentals on the eve of the two teams’ clash which the Bulawayo club lost 1-0, leading to survival of The Students.
In their submissions, Chiefs said Herentals assistant coach Paul Benza called Sibanda asking to meet him and when the latter declined, Chivero rang him purporting to be interested in talking about midfielder Hughe Chikosa’s deal.
Chivero then visited Chiefs’ base in the company of two friends but the PSL disciplinary hearing noted that there was no evidence that he tried to influence Sibanda to manipulate the game.
A fuming Chivero yesterday demanded an apology from Sibanda and Chiefs, saying he is happy that he has been cleared of any wrong doing.
“It hasn’t been easy moments for me to wait to be cleared because someone wanted to gain mileage through smearing my name. I knew I was innocent from the beginning and finally justice has prevailed. What I want is for them (Chiefs) to give me the reason why they dragged my name into dirt? I’m really disappointed, especially at Thulani because he knew that we talked about Hughe going to South Africa after his manager said he wants him to try his luck in that country’s first division.
“Honestly, if I wanted to fix the game through Hughe, I have his number and would have called him directly instead of going through Thulani. People should learn to respect others and lose gracefully. They mustn’t drag my name into their dirty politics,” said Chivero.
About his relationship with Herentals, Chivero distanced himself from the Harare club.
Those sympathetic with Herentals have been alleging that knives are out for the Harare club who had a PSL disciplinary committee’s ruling of docking them three points and fining them $300 000 for allegedly manipulating the game against Black Rhinos which they won 3-0 overturned by Zifa appeals committee.
Days after being acquitted by the Zifa appeals committee, Herentals flew into another storm, this time around being kicked out of the league for taking football matters into the courts of law.
They were slapped with a $100 000 fine to be paid by March 31 and also ordered to take care of the costs of the hearing.
The Students, as Herentals are known, approached the High Court last month challenging the PSL disciplinary committee’s decision to dock them three points, over alleged match-fixing.
The Harare club filed their High Court application after they were found guilty by the PSL disciplinary committee of allegedly manipulating their league match against Black Rhinos which they won 3-0 last year.
Herentals owner Innocent Benza last month told our Harare Bureau that they erred by taking football matters to court, promising to withdraw their appeal.
However, it has since emerged that the case was never withdrawn despite Herentals notifying their lawyer to do so.
Herentals meanwhile have since been booted out of the PSL for taking football matters to court. The club says it will appeal against the ruling to chuck them out, claiming they withdrew their case but a legal fundi at the High Court told Chronicle Sport that the initial charge was taking the matter to court, not failure to withdraw. — @ZililoR