ZIFA will launch investigations into how foreign footballers are coming into the country following last Wednesday’s deportation of Cameroonian striker Brice Eto’o Fils.
BY ALBERT MARUFU
Eto’o, who claims to be cousin to former African Footballer of the Year Samuel Eto’o, came into the country for trials in September last year at the invitation of former Premier Soccer League side Gunners FC. However, Gunners later allegedly reneged on their promises resulting in the player’s visa expiring before losing his travelling documents.
He was then arrested by the Immigration Department and had been in prison awaiting deportation since December last year. He was deported last week after Zifa paid for his airfares.
He, however, had spent the Christmas and New Year holidays in prison with only his friend Beauty Tinazvo being his visitor.
Another Nigerian footballer, Uneke Afamefuna Chukwunonso also spent time in prison after being arrested on allegations of not possessing a valid visa. He was, however, acquitted by the courts.
The association’s chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze, who saw off Eto’o at the airport, said they believed that there could be a number of foreign players being inhumanly treated.
“These are sad cases. These clubs bring players into the country for trials and then desert them. This guy from Cameroon [Eto’o] was invited by Gunners but the club deserted him and we had to pay for his airfares to return home. The player spent more than two months in prison and that is not fair
“We are going to investigate on how these players come into the country and who brings them before imposing a fine on Gunners because there could be more players.
“There is also a Nigerian player Afamefuna who was allegedly invited for trials by Dynamos but ended up in prison awaiting deportation, just like Eto’o. We believe that there could be an issue of human trafficking going on. Unfortunately, I cannot reveal the names of the players we are investigating as that would alert the individuals who brought them into the country,” he said.
Mashingaidze added that in the future they would make sure that foreign players have return tickets and their accommodation is paid for.
Eto’o came to Zimbabwe in September last year after being promised a good contract by Gunners FC following the suspension of football in Egypt where he was playing for El Gouna.
He claims to have been promised a US$3 000 salary by Gunners president Cuthbert Chitima and team manager Stanley Makombe who financed his trip to Harare, but was never signed by the club.