FIFA: Match-fixing confessions could affect bans

Harare (Zimbabwe): Players and officials involved in match-fixing could receive lighter punishments by coming clean, FIFA`s head of security said Monday.

Chris Eaton wrapped up a trip to Zimbabwe, where the sport has been mired in corruption allegation, by promising that FIFA would take any confessions into consideration when deciding on the length of a ban for those found guilty of match-fixing.

"It is not an amnesty," he said. "The fact that you come forward now may be of great assistance to what may or may not happen to you."

Zimbabwean players have admitted they were paid to lose games in Asia in 2009 where they lost 2-0 to Jordan, 3-0 to Thailand and 6-0 to Syria.

Eaton, a 40-year veteran of international police service, told reporters he will investigate all aspects of a 160-page report on match-fixing compiled to the Zimbabwe Football Association.

"Football has to survive the attack on its credibility," he said. "Gambling is far bigger than football itself."

Elliot Kasu, an official with Zimbabwe`s federation, said the national body only had power to impose disciplinary action against implicated players and officials, but that police and anti-corruption officials were handling possible criminal charges outlined in the report. A ZIFA committee is expected to complete its rulings by the end of the year.

"The path we are following is zero tolerance, everyone has to answer for the wrongs and we are making that clear to all stakeholders and sponsors," Kasu said. "As we say in Zimbabwe, if you want visitors to your house you must clean your house first."

According to ZIFA`s investigators, gambling syndicate representatives paid amounts totaling USD 50,000 for each of 15 matches that were fixed from 2007 to 2009 in Asia.

Investigators accused a large number of players of involvement in widespread corruption and said the national federation`s former chief executive Henrietta Rushwaya masterminded the fixing.

Rushwaya, who was fired as ZIFA chief executive last year, also received "huge payouts," according to the report.

In many cases, the report said, money was handed out by agents of Wilson Raj Perumal, a Singaporean who was jailed in Finland earlier this year for match-fixing and was believed to be a central figure in a swathe of betting scandals that have rocked world football.

"Perumal corrupted football, albeit in Zimbabwe but also across all continents," Eaton said. "Zimbabwe football has taken a very great dip, but we expect to see it return to where it belongs."

Bureau Report

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