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Perumal’s long dance with Zimbabwean football

Convicted Singaporean match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumal infiltrated Zimbabwean football more than a decade ago, Standardsport has learnt.

REPORT BY MICHAEL MADYIRA

Findings by former Fifa head of security, Chris Eaton, in his match-fixing investigations state that Perumal’s network extended to Zimbabwe in the late 1990s. Eaton’s findings are contained in the Asiagate match-fixing report compiled by the Ebrahim Commission tasked to probe the scandal.

The former Interpol boss established that Perumal and his syndicates were targeting national associations whom they would assist in arranging international friendly matches. The discovery could suck into Asasigate the Zimbabwe Football Associations regimes that served before the Wellington Nyatanga administration.

“According to Eaton’s investigators, Perumal had perfected his scheme in the late ‘90s in Ghana and Zimbabwe,” reads part of the report.

“His goal was just not to bribe individual players but to dupe entire federations. Representing front companies with names like Footy Media and Football4U, Perumal would approach federation officials as a promoter who negotiated friendlies between national teams.

“Eaton’s operatives cultivated sources who eventually led them to a syndicate in Singapore. They slowly uncovered how deeply fixers like Perumal had infiltrated the game,” the report reads.

Leo Mugabe, who was the Zifa boss prior to the new millennium, said nothing pointed to the effect that matches were being sold.

“There was not even one day we suspected that our matches were being fixed. No match-fixing was happening at that time. I remember that we once went to Malaysia and won there,” said Mugabe. Perumal is suspected to have been involved in organising the international friendly match between the Zimbabwe Warriors and a bogus El Salvador national team in January 2004. The Singaporean and his syndicates have a long history of operations in El Salvador. The name of Perumal’s front company Footy Media featured in the arrangement of the game which was a brainchild of Italian sportswear company, L-Sporto, who then had just entered into a merchandising deal with Zifa. L-Sporto were being represented by their Malawian agent Felix Sapao. The match which ended in a goalless draw was played during the era of the Rafik Khan administration and was being used to prepare the Warriors for their maiden appearance at the 2004 Africa Cup of Nations.

Former Zifa vice-chairman Vincent Pamire said the El Salvador incident now makes sense and indicated that Zimbabwe was infiltrated by bookmakers a long time ago.

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