Zimbabwe's parliamentary committee for education, sports and culture took testimony Thursday from officials of the Zimbabwe Football Association, the Sports and Recreation Commission and the Education Ministry on why the so-called Asiagate match-fixing scandal involving the national team went on for years without detection.
Committee member Jeffryson Chitando said testimony indicated there was a conspiracy linking people and even senior officials from public offices as high as the presidency by way of immigration and sports, which enabled former ZIFA Chief Executive Henrietta Rushwaya to lead Zimbabwe’s soccer down the pathway of corrupt practices.
Chitando said Parliament agreed the crisis in the sport must be urgently addressed.
This followed the release Monday of Rushwaya on bail after police arrested her on charges of bribery, corruption and match-fixing. She is accused of sending the Warriors national soccer team to play unsanctioned friendly matches in Thailand and Malaysia, where a betting syndicate paid players and officials to fix games.
Last week ZIFA said it had suspended 82 players implicated in the scandal. Zimbabwe is also being probed by the International Federation of Association Football.
FIFA President Sepp Blatter warned last year that players and officials found guilty in the ongoing probe would face life bans.
Meanwhile, wild scenes rocked Harare late Wednesday as Zimbabwe fans celebrated victory by Zambia’s Chipolopolo at the Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea.
VOA Studio 7 sports correspondent Michael Kariati reported that the celebrations followed Zambia’s unexpected 1-0 win over the favored Ghana Black Stars in the semi-finals of the Cup of Nations in Bata, Equatorial Guinea.
Substitute Emmanuel Mayuka scored 12 minutes from time to give Zambia a shock 1-0 win over four-time champions Ghana and book a place in Sunday's final.
Zambia now faces Cote d'Ivoire, which defeated Mali 1-0, in Libreville, Gabon.
This makes for an emotional final as it was off Gabon's coast that a plane with Zambia's 1993 squad plunged into the Atlantic killing all 25 players and officials on board.
It will be the third final appearance by Zambia's Copper Bullets in the Africa Cup of Nations after losing to Zaire following a replay in 1974, and to Nigeria 20 years later with a makeshift team brought together soon after the plane crash.