Grace Chingoma, Harare Bureau
DISGRACED former Zifa programmes officer, Jonathan Musavengana, has made history, for all the wrong reasons, after becoming the first Zimbabwean to be banned, from all football-related activities around the world by Fifa, for life.
He was found guilty of bribery and corruption.
The ban comes four months after a Fifa Ethics Committee’s Investigatory Chamber recommended that Musavangena and two other officials from South Africa and Togo, including the former South African Football Association president Kirsten Nematandani, should be sanctioned.
Nematandani was hit with a five-year ban while former Togo national team coach Banna Tchanile was, like Musavengana, slapped with a life-time ban from all football-related activities (administrative, sports or any other) at both national and international level.
Musavengana has been pleading his innocence saying he is just a small fish that is being targeted in a web of corruption.
According a media release from Fifa yesterday, the trio’s banishment was effective from yesterday, and was related to the friendly international matches which Bafana Bafana played ahead of South Africa hosting the 2010 World Cup finals.
Fifa say a number of the matches were manipulated after Safa were infiltrated by an Asian match-fixing gang which then arranged the matches and provided referees who were instructed to handle matches that would provide a pre-determined result.
Other cases might also have been considered by Fifa although the world football governing body did not name them.
“The three cases decided related to international friendly matches played in South Africa in 2010, as well as to cases decided by the adjudicatory chamber in October 2015,” Fifa said .
“The investigations, initiated in September 2015, were conducted by Djimrabaye Bourngar, deputy chairman of the investigatory chamber of the Ethics Committee, and the final reports were passed to the adjudicatory chamber on 17 August 2016.
“In this regard, Mr Nematandani was found guilty of having violated Article 13 (General Rules of Conduct), Article 15 (Loyalty) and Article 18 (Duty of Disclosure, Co-operation and Reporting) of the Fifa Code of Ethics and was sanctioned with a ban from taking part in any football-related activities for five years.
“Furthermore, the adjudicatory chamber decided that Mr Musavengana and Mr Tchanile had both infringed Article 13 and Article 21 (Bribery and Corruption) of the FCE and imposed a life ban on the two former officials.”
The trio was found guilty by the adjudicatory of the independent Ethics Committee chaired by Hans-Joachim Eckert.
Musavengana, who has since relocated from Zimbabwe, and the former Togolese coach only learnt of their bans on the Fifa website or through media reports after they failed to furnish the adjudicatory chamber with their fax numbers.
However, pursuant to Article 78 of the Fifa Code of Ethics, the Ethics Committee may decide not to communicate the grounds of a decision and instead communicate only the terms of the decision.
Tchanile, the former Togolese coach, was already banned by his country’s federation after taking a team masquerading as the Togolese national side to play a friendly with Bahrain in 2010 organised by a match-fixing cartel. The former coach is expected to pay costs of the legal proceedings amounting to CHF (Swiss Francs) 5 000 within 30 days of notification of the present decision.
And he is also expected to bear his own legal and other costs incurred in connection with the present proceedings. Musavengana was a lower division referee in Zimbabwe and later rose to become Zifa’s programmes officer.
He was first found guilty by the Zifa leadership, under the guidance of Cuthbert Dube, over the Asiagate scandal and was handed a life ban from the game.
Fifa, however, declined to endorse the Asiagate bans because they felt Zifa had not given the sanctioned parties a fair hearing, had not used their disciplinary channels to reach a decision and had not provided the world football governing body with enough evidence to support such a conviction.
The current Zifa Board, under Harare businessman Philip Chiyangwa, brought closure to the Asiagate saga by lifting the suspensions imposed on all individuals.
But Musavengana was later fingered by the same Zifa leadership in the Limpopogate scam, which also sucked in former Zifa board member Edzai Kasinauyo, ex-Warriors coach Ian Gorowa, former Warriors assistant coach Nation Dube and the association’s former chief executive Henrietta Rushwaya
Both Musavengana and Rushwaya were banned for life by Zifa for the second time.
However, a Harare magistrate freed Rushwaya, Dube and Kasinauyo, who had been arrested in a criminal case related to the scandal, saying there wasn’t enough evidence to put them to their defence and saying the case should not have even been brought before the courts.
Chiyangwa announced, in the wake of that decision, that his Zifa leadership will review the bans that were imposed on Kasinauyo and Dube but maintained that Musavengana and Rushwaya will remain banned for life from domestic football’s activities.
“It’s another vindication of our stance on the people that we believe are the key figures in this mess and we are happy that Fifa have come to such a determination on this case,” said Chiyangwa.
“We provided them with our recommendations and we await what they will also say on our recommendations that Henrietta should be banned from football for life around the world and not only in Zimbabwe.
“It is a major deterrence to others who may want to commit similar offences. There are people who do things in football that are unbecoming and this is the only way to stop them from further harming our football.”
Bafana Bafana were handed two questionable penalties in a 2-1 victory over Colombia in Johannesburg on May 27, 2010.
One of the spot kicks was ordered to be retaken twice after the initial efforts were saved.
Colombia’s goal also came from a penalty.
Four days later South Africa were awarded another two spot kicks in a 5-0 win over Guatemala in Polokwane.
One of the referees of those matches was said to have walked into a South African bank carrying more than $50 000 in cash to be transferred to the account of his wife in West Africa.