Gumede blasts Fifa over AsiaGate

ZIFA vice-president Ndumiso Gumede has sensationally accused Fifa of “acting in bad faith’’ and claims that they could have long closed the Asiagate match-fixing saga had the world soccer governing body been “totally supportive’’ of the association.

Gumede, who has previously admitted that Zifa’s bid to deal with the Asiagate scandal left the association diverting more attention to the saga at the expense of critical football matters such as junior development, said they felt badly let down by Fifa on the matter.

The outgoing Zifa vice-president’s attack on Fifa comes as the world soccer governing body has invited the association’s representatives to their Zurich headquarters on March 24 to further discuss the Asiagate issue.

As the long winding drama between Fifa and Zifa, which has somewhat turned into a farce, continued, the world body wrote to Zifa chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze confirming that a meeting of the two parties would take place this month.

The world body had earlier turned down a request for a meeting before rescinding their decision and set a condition that Zifa would have to provide any new documentation on Asiagate which they have previously not sent to them when they travel to the Swiss capital.

After accenting to Zifa’s request for an indaba, the world body had wanted the meeting to be held on March 27 but then brought it forward after noting that there would be national Zifa board elections in Harare on March 29.

Fifa director of legal affairs Marco Villiger and the head of disciplinary and governance Marc Cavaliero indicated in their letter to Zifa that although the association had initially wanted to send three representatives, the world body would only cater for the travel expenses of two.

Zifa wanted to send the trio of legal representative Ralph Maganga, Gumede and Mashingaidze.

Ndumiso Gumede

“We refer to the captioned matter (facilitation of a meeting between Fifa disciplinary committee and the Zifa board march 2014) and herewith acknowledge receipt of your correspondence dated 26 February 2014, the contents of which have received our full attention.

“In this respect we would like to inform you that the chairman of the Fifa disciplinary committee has agreed to meet again with representatives of your association at the home of Fifa in Zurich on 24 March 2014.

“Furthermore we take note of the fact that three representatives from Zifa will attend the said meeting as well as of their said names and functions. In this regard we would like to inform you that Fifa will only be in a position to cover the costs of travel and accommodation for two representatives of Zifa as previously arranged for the purpose of the meeting between Zifa and the chairman of the Fifa disciplinary committee held on 23 July 2013.

“Finally we reiterate that our invitation kindly asking you to provide, prior to the meeting date, the chairman of the disciplinary committee with any documents and evidence that are not already in his possession regarding the sanction imposed by your association on various players and officials in the scope of the investigations and proceedings conducted into the Asiagate scandal,’’ wrote the Fifa officials.

Gumede, however, maintained that Fifa should shoulder the blame for the manner in which Zifa failed to put a lid to the Asiagate scam.

The veteran administrator said he would register his disappointment with Fifa during the March 24 indaba in Zurich, insisting that they had tried to follow the Asiagate roadmap which they had discussed with Fifa’s former head of security Chris Eaton when he came to Zimbabwe.

“We have been asked by Fifa to come and explain a few things and we are going there to really say to them that we feel like we have been badly let down in the sense that Chris Eaton assured us that we were doing the right thing and he even said go ahead and set up an independent ad-hoc committee.

“What was the purpose of Eaton’s visit to Harare if it was not to assist Zimbabwe to finalise the Asiagate debacle which as we all know was unprecedented?

“Eaton also pledged that Fifa would financially assist us and that there had been a fund set aside for that but Fifa now tells us there was no such commitment and that is what also contributed to this case dragging for far too long.

“It’s in Fifa’s hands and it’s unfortunate that Fifa are not acting in good faith in this whole matter and they continue to give us conflicting signals and we are also not happy with the way the communication on Asiagate has been handled,’’ Gumede said.

Zifa had initially hoped to have closed the Asiagate chapter by October 2011, the time frame which they had given the independent committee chaired by retired Supreme Court judge Justice Ebrahim to bring the matter to finality.

But two and half years on the association is still seized with the matter, albeit, without a clear end in sight and Gumede has now laid much of the blame on Fifa. The Herald

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