THE Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) has absolved itself of abetting Caps United to fraudulently register two of their players for the African Champions League, saying the league champions must face the music alone.
Caps were booted out
of the competition after their preliminary-round opponents, Inter Stars of Burundi, complained to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) over the use by the Harare giants of the Malawian duo of Gift Makoloni and George Martins, who apparently had not been properly registered.
Caps applied to CAF for the Malawian players’ Champions League licences under a false declaration that the two were at the Harare side in 2005.
Besides that, Caps had also attempted to field defender Martin Goremusandu when the picture on his registration card was not his.
Caps now face a three-year ban from all continental club competitions for the offence.
If the CAF organising and disciplinary committee proves that Zifa had a hand in the fraud, all other Zimbabwean clubs will also be suspended from continental competitions for three years.
Item number three of Section 7, Article 23 of CAF’s inter-club regulations concerning fraud stipulates: “If it is established that the national association to which the team in question belongs has participated in the fraud by helping the guilty club, this association and all the clubs under its jurisdiction shall be suspended from CAF inter-clubs competitions for a period of three years.”
However, Zifa chief executive Jonathan Mashingaidze yesterday said the association had not helped Caps to falsify information about the suspiciously registered players.
“We do not condone cheating of any kind,” Mashingaidze said. “We’ve never supported any underhand activity.”
He added: “There is no way we can be part of anything like that. We have had other clubs playing in CAF competitions over the years and nothing like that has come up.
“We are very much up to date on football statutes and there is no way we can jeopardise Zimbabwean football by breaking any laid down rule.”
Mashingaidze said Caps had insisted to Zifa that Makoloni and Martin were Caps players last year since they had been “ordinarily resident” in Zimbabwe and were waiting for the 2006 season to be able to play.
“The information that Caps gave us is what we sent. Zifa has a lot of other things to do and we cannot do everything for clubs,” Mashingaidze said.
Critics have lambasted Zifa for failing to verify the information supplied by Caps, exposing its own incompetence.
“We believe clubs are run by adults and whatever information we get from adults does not warrant intense scrutinising. Zifa is just a transmitting agent and the clubs have to do the right thing,” Mashingaidze defended Zifa.