HARARE – For months, a dark cloud had been hanging over several Zimbabwean footballers who were facing lengthy bans from the game after a drawn-out enquiry found them guilty of match-fixing and illegal betting for their roles in the Asiagate scandal.
What a relief that day must have been for all those lads on Tuesday when the Zimbabwe Football Association (Zifa) announced it had lifted bans on the majority of players previously slapped with career-threatening sanctions.
While most of the players escaped with excessive fines – which judging by the meagre salaries of footballers in this country – can be viewed as unreasonable on the part of Zifa, it seems to me that decision was the only logical move in bringing this sad chapter of Zimbabwean football to an end.
A strong, deterrent message needed to be sent in view of the degree of match-fixing activities which disgraced the nation and portrayed the otherwise responsible and dignified citizens of Zimbabwe as a treacherous and greedy lot who would do anything for money.
There is no doubt in everyone’s mind that match-fixing did place during the Warriors’ escapades in Asia between 2007 and 2009, but while suspensions seemed too punitive and would have effectively ended the careers of some of our finest football talent – who were used as pawns by greedy officials – an “admission of guilty fine” was the only way of exercising clemency and reminding guys at the same time that what they did was treasonous and deplorable.