The Premier Soccer League (PSL) is on a collision course with Zifa after it blasted the football mother body’s appeals committee for alleged bias in handling the Herentals FC match-fixing case.
By Munyaradzi Madzokere
Last week, the Zifa appeals committee cleared Herentals FC and their “official” Oliver Chirenga of match-fixing, overtuning the conviction made by the PSL disciplinary committee in January this year.
Herentals and Chirenga were found guilty of trying to influence the result of the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League match against Black Rhinos in October last year in a bid to beat the dreaded chop.
The club was fined $300 000 and relegated from the top-flight league, before they approached Zifa contesting the verdict.
In overturning the verdict, the appeals committee accused PSL disciplinary committee of bias and PSL has decided to hit back and expose the loopholes in the former’s judgement as well.
A memo in the possession of Standardsport outlines the PSL’s reaction to the appeals committee’s counter judgement, accusing them of bias.
“The rejection by the PSL DC [disciplinary committee] of [Gift] Kamuriwo’s claim that he did not influence the outcome of the match did not in any way show bias,” reads part of the memo.
“If anyone has shown clear bias, it is the appeals committee. It has completely failed to conceal the fact that it was favourably disposed towards the appellants.”
The PSL disciplinary committee was also accused of being selective in its approach to the case, especially with regard to Kamuriwo’s evidence, which was deemed “not truthful in every respect”.
“The charge the appellant was facing is attempting to bribe a Black Rhinos FC player and offering payment of a bribe. During the hearing the ‘prosecution’ team submitted that the mere fact that the bribe was paid is enough to prove the charge,” reads the memo.
“The issue of whether Kamuriwo fixed the match is not an issue because the offence that Herentals and Chirenga were facing is an inchoate one.
“Herentals were charged for attempting to fix the match and paying bribe money to Kamuriwo. This is clear from the judgement. It seems the appeals committee was not even aware of the charge.
“Appellants remained guilty even if Kamuriwo did not himself fix the match because as soon as he received the money from Chirenga an offence had been committed.”
PSL also questioned the appeals committee’s silence on the identity of Chirenga, who Herentals insist is a mere supporter, when records show that he was registered as an official by the club.
“This issue [of Chirenga’s identity] was central to the resolution of this matter. In response to the charges, Herentals FC submitted a response in defence and their defence was that Oliver Chirenga was not their official but was merely a supporter.
“The decision of the appeal’s committee is shockingly silent on this very important issue. “What is evident from the PSL DC record is that Herentals FC insisted that Chirenga was not an official of the club even though the PSL records indicate that he was registered as an official.
“The Zifa appeals committee did not comment on it and it did not comment on the last-minute attempt by Herentals FC to withdraw the name of Chirenga from the registered officials. “The attempt to withdraw was done after the club had been charged.”
Other issues highlighted in the dossier include the appeals committee’s bizarre suggestion that the PSL should have ordered that Black Rhinos be charged.
According to the PSL, the appeals committee also lacked comprehension of its own rules with regard to standard proof to be used in such cases.
“Rule 3.6 of the Zifa rules and regulations states clearly that the charges shall be proved on a balance of probability. Counsel for PSL reiterated this position in oral submissions. The appeals committee ignored the submissions. The error made by the appeals committee is glaring,” said the PSL.
The Herentals case took a new twist after the PSL expelled the club from the league for taking football matters to court.
However, the PSL cleared Herentals of match-fixing allegations in a match against Bulawayo Chiefs, which the Students won 1-0 at Luveve Stadium on December 14.