Cen­tral­gate haunts Mnkan­tjo

Sunday News (Zimbabwe) - - Front Page -

ZIFA Ref­er­ees Com­mit­tee chief in­struc­tor, Ta­bani Mnkan­tjo’s al­leged in­volve­ment in the Cen­tral­gate scan­dal has re­turned to haunt him af­ter Fifa de­nied him per­mis­sion to at­tend a Fu­turo III Ref­eree In­struc­tors course that was held last month in South Africa.

Mnkan­tjo’s name was for­warded by Zifa as their nom­i­nee for the tech­ni­cal part of the course but Fifa wrote back to the mother body stat­ing they would not be ac­cept­ing the for­mer ref­eree due to “in­tegrity ques­tions”. Im­pec­ca­ble sources at Zifa told Sun­day News that Fifa asked the coun­try’s foot­ball con­trol­ling body to come up with a re­place­ment.

Mnkan­tjo was fin­gered in the Cen­tral­gate scam that saw sev­eral top of­fi­cials both in ad­min­is­tra­tion and ref­er­ees be­ing handed vary­ing lengths of sus­pen­sions and bans. The scan­dal saw a car­tel of ref­er­ees and of­fi­cials al­legedly col­lud­ing to fix matches in the Cen­tral Re­gion in 2011 as they sought to in­flu­ence the cham­pi­onship race. Zim­babwe Ref­er­ees Com­mit­tee vice-chair­man, Glad­more Muzambi con­firmed the de­vel­op­ment say­ing they had for­warded Mnkan­tjo’s name as Zim­babwe’s can­di­date for the ref­er­ees in­struc­tors’ course but Fifa had writ­ten to them rais­ing concern of the for­mer ref­eree’s in­tegrity. The course ran from 22 to 27 Oc­to­ber in Jo­han­nes­burg.

“Fifa cited his in­volve­ment in ques­tion­able acts say­ing it would be in­ap­pro­pri­ate for some­one with such a his­tory to stand in front of ref­er­ees and teach them. In­tegrity is now an im­por­tant el­e­ment and that could have had a hand in the de­ci­sion,” he said.

Muzambi said they sent in two names to Fifa for con­sid­er­a­tion of a re­place­ment and the foot­ball body chose Phibion Ng­werume, who then at­tended the six-day course in Jo­han­nes­burg. He said they will con­tinue to work with Mnkan­tjo but Fifa’s re­sponse ob­vi­ously presents them with a dif­fi­culty in terms of how the as­so­ci­a­tion will al­low the con­tin­ued in­volve­ment of Mnkan­jto in the ref­er­ee­ing struc­ture.

“I think that is a mat­ter that we will have to look at as a com­mit­tee and then make a de­ci­sion go­ing for­ward on how to han­dle the is­sue. We chose him to do that course be­cause he is our chief in­struc­tor and it is nat­u­ral that he should be equipped with more knowl­edge but it was an un­for­tu­nate loss for him. As a com­mit­tee, we feel em­pow­er­ing Ng­werume will en­able him to ful­fil our man­date of train­ing able match of­fi­cials,” he said. Ng­werume at­tended the course with Masakadza Makonese who at­tended the phys­i­cal fit­ness sec­tion of the in­struc­tor’s course. He said they will act as re­gional in­struc­tors and al­ready been ear­marked to con­duct a Level Two ref­er­ees course. The Cen­tral­gate scan­dal saw sev­eral ad­min­is­tra­tors and match of­fi­cials be­ing sus­pended af­ter be­ing ac­cused of be­ing in­volved in a ring that fixed matches in­volv­ing the now de­funct clubs Hard­body and Trip­ple B the Cen­tral Soc­cer League in 2011.

Ac­cord­ing to find­ings by Zifa Mnkan­tjo, who had just re­tired from match of­fi­ci­at­ing, al­legedly acted as a link be­tween one of the teams and match of­fi­cials who were be­ing asked to in­flu­ence the re­sults.

The saga sucked in some re­gional of­fi­cials in the Cen­tral Re­gion and South­ern Re­gion. Zifa’s ad­min­is­tra­tion un­der Philip Chiyangwa how­ever de­cided to re­move all the bans and sus­pen­sions that had been had to of­fi­cials for in­volve­ment the scan­dal in 2016, al­low­ing them to come back into foot­ball.

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