Zimbabwe’s top footballers from Castle Lager Premier Soccer League clubs have gone into soccer betting to supplement their earnings which they claim are far below what they require to support their families, Standardsport can reveal.
By Michael Kariati
Among some of the players are Dynamos vice-captain, Thomas Magorimbo, Harare City skipper David Kutyauripo and suspended Dynamos and Warriors defender Guthrie Zhokinyu, who are regulars at a sports betting shop in the Avenues area in Harare.
Kutyauripo admitted spending most of his time in the betting shop but denied he bets on football. He claims he goes there to spend time with his friend Zhokinyu who is a regular there, adding that most of the workers in the shop are also his friends whom he grew up with in Bulawayo.
“Guthrie is my friend and he is always in the betting shop as he is unemployed. So, I go there to spend time with him. The shop attendants are also my friends, I grew up with them in Bulawayo. I don’t bet and will never bet,” said Kutyauripo.
Zhokinyu was banned from football for his involvement in the Asiagate scandal.
Magorimbo, who is with Dynamos for the One Wallet Cup semifinal match against How Mine, could not be reached to shed light on this development.
Sources have revealed that the three are just a few of the many players from PSL clubs and the lower divisions throughout the country who are frequenting soccer betting shops as football in Zimbabwe has become less rewarding.
Most of the clubs in the Premiership pay salaries of around US$400 with bonuses not exceeding US$100 for a win. To be precise, some of the bonuses are pegged at US$50, but the clubs are failing to pay even that little with players going for months without receiving their dues.
One of the players, who refused to be identified, pointed out that he had no option but to join many who are now into football betting as he has gone for months without receiving his salary at a Premiership club he turns out for.
In fact, the player revealed that he is considering quitting football for good to concentrate on his “newly found job” which he finds to be not only enjoyable, but also lucrative.
Although former Dynamos Supporters Club secretary Tendai Makoni said there was nothing wrong with players placing their bets on games which they did not play a part in, player manager Nobert Chawira who manages 26 junior and senior players including CAPS United’s Kennedy Bulaji said players should concentrate on playing football. “If they want football then they should concentrate on football. But if they want betting then they should quit football altogether,” said Chawira.
Zimbabwe Football Association chief executive officer Jonathan Mashingaidze and Premier Soccer League boss Kennedy Ndebele said they were no laws that prevented local players from placing their bets on football, but said that they did not encourage players to get involved.
Although Zimbabwean football is not on bet locally, Ndebele said the system of Zimbabwean players placing bets on foreign clubs presented a potential danger to local football.
“As the Premier Soccer League, we do not encourage players to bet on football as this brings an appetite for greediness. Clubs should ensure that their players do not get involved in these practices,” said Ndebele.
Mashingaidze said players should not be allowed into gambling as doing so was a fatal attraction that could lead them into temptation.
“The more money they get from this practice, the more they would need.
“This could send them into fixing matches,” said Mashingaidze.
The Zifa supremo said they would as from next season employ a manipulation officer whose duty would be to monitor domestic games and those of national teams as well as individual players and raise the alarm should there be any suspicions of match-fixing.
In other countries, players have on numerous occassions been fined large sums of money if found guilty of soccer betting or gambling.