Sikhumbuzo Moyo, Senior Sports Reporter
TWO Zimbabwean referees have been accused of accepting bribes while officiating in an Under-23 Total Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between a Central and North African country in March this year.
One of the referees (name supplied) has been suspended by the Zimbabwe Referees’ Committee (ZRC) for alleged insubordination after he refused to respond to the allegations when asked for written submissions.
According to sources privy to the goings on, the particular match, which was eventually won by the North African country after the two-legged encounter, was handled by four Zimbabwean officials, two from Harare, one from Matabeleland South and one from Bulawayo but the masterminds allegedly targeted two of the officials. “No, no one has been suspended, it’s just speculation,” said ZRC chairperson Bryton Malandule when asked about the developments.
A source, however, said the referee, who was the centre official, has since been slapped with an indefinite suspension while Caf has also been apprised of the development.
“He will not be officiating any local games in the foreseeable future as investigations continue. The other one who was also targeted is said to have given his side of the story, but we don’t know what exactly he told the committee,” said the source.
Last year, referee Norman Matemera rejected a $10 000 bribery attempt by Equatorial Guinea outfit Desportivo Niefang to influence the result of their decisive Caf Confederation Cup play-off tie against Cote d’Ivoire’s Williamsville Athletic Club.
Desportivo Niefang officials, working in cahoots with Togolese match commissioner Lawson Mahuwe as their emissary offered Matemera and his assistants Brighton Nyika, Salani Ncube and Pilani Ncube a cash bribe of $10 000 to ensure the Equatorial Guinea side won the match to advance to the group stage of the competition.
Matemera, however, resisted those attempts and instead reported the incident to Caf.
Caf and Fifa have zero tolerance on match-fixing, with a number of referees caught on the wrong side being slapped with hefty sanctions ranging from long term suspensions to life bans.