The Zimbabwe Football Association has suspended 67 soccer players accused of taking part in the 2007-2009 Asian match fixing scandal in which they received bribes to throw matches, leading to a major scandal and the sacking of the ZIFA chief executive.
Most of the suspended players belonged to the Warriors national team. ZIFA Chief Executive Jonathan Mashingaidze in a statement Monday said implicated players could not play on the national team unless cleared by the ZIFA ethics committee.
"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 said.
"For now the coach has been instructed to call up only players who are clean and cannot be manipulated to throw away matches," Mashingaidze added.
An investigation into the so-called “Asiagate” scandal last year led to the dismisal of the former ZIFA Chief Executive Henrietta Rushwaya.
She was said to be a mastermind of the scam along with Singaporean Wilson Raj Perumal, now in prison in Finland on similar charges.
The decision to suspend the players was made during an emergency board meeting to review the country's failure to qualify for the African Cup Of Nations currently underway in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon. Zimbabwe's failure to qualify for the Cup incensed fans who inquired with the national association on reason why the Warriors failed to qualify.
"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 the Asiagate scandal," said Mashingaidze.
Players on the suspension list include striker Khama Billiat, now with Ajax Cape Town in South Africa, Nyasha Mushekwi and former Warriors captain Method Mwanjali amongst others.
Sports commentator Omega Sibanda tells VOA Studio Seven reporter, Marvellous Mhlanga- Nyahuye that ZIFA still needs to clarify the implications of the suspensions for players at the club level.
Some local clubs have qualified for intercontinental tournments this year and it is unclear if they will be able to use the suspended players caught up by the Asiagate scandal.