Zimbabwe suspends 67 players after corruption case

The Zimbabwe Football Association suspended 67 players,

including most of its national team, on Monday in the wake a

long-standing match-fixing investigation.

A ZIFA probe last year led to a number of Zimbabwe players

admitting accepting money from an Asian betting syndicate to lose

friendly matches on Far East trips between 2007 and 2009.

The ZIFA report said the money was handed out by agents of

Singaporean Wilson Raj Perumal, who is currently in jail in Finland

for fixing activities in that country.

In a statement Monday, ZIFA chief executive Jonathan

Mashingaidze: ”The ZIFA board has resolved that all players

implicated in the match-fixing scandal must not be included in the

national team matches from now onwards.” He added they must be

cleared by the association’s ethics committee, which is

investigating the scandal, before they can play for the team

again.

Former Zimbabwe captain Method Mwanjali and top internationals

Daniel Vheremu, Benjamin Marere and Thomas Sweswe, along with a

member of the coaching staff, Joey Antipas, all made statements

admitting taking money.

The list of players who featured in the matches includes several

key members of the current squad: Nyasha Mushekwi, Khama Billiat

and Ovidy Karuru.

The decision to suspend the players was made during an emergency

board meeting to review Zimbabwe’s failure to qualify for the

African Cup of Nations, currently under way in Equatorial Guinea

and Gabon. That failure raised suspicions among Zimbabwean

fans.

”The sentiment in every Zimbabwean was that the team was

failing to qualify for major tournaments since we were using

players who had been tainted by this scandal,” Mashingaidze

said.

”For now the coach has been instructed to call up only players

who are clean and cannot be manipulated to throw away

matches.”

Last September, ZIFA suspended three of its board members,

pending further investigation, for their alleged involvement in the

scandal.