CASTLE Lager Premiership new boys Manica Diamonds — Manicaland’s flagship football outfit for the 2019 season — plunged into turmoil before kicking a ball in the domestic top flight league following stunning allegations that two club executive members — Lazarus Muhoni and Lloyd Chinawa — pocketed bribes from several players that received sign-on fees.
A lot has been said since the story spilled into public domain with pundits duly blaming football administrators that take advantage of players’ desperate situation to enrich themselves.
Whether Chinawa and Muhoni will be found guilty of any wrongdoing or not, the jury is out. Our main area of concern, however, is the cancer of corruption in football clubs in relation to player recruitment processes.
Those in the know will attest that the issue of administrators and coaches paying bribes to get contracts has been with us for a long time, especially in top flight football league circles.
No doubt, that which has been exposed at Manica Diamonds and ZPC Kariba is just a tip of the iceberg. It has also played out even at various national team levels as well as in other sporting codes.
The silent victims in all these shenanigans are the players – sportsmen and women that are being fleeced of their little earnings in broad daylight. What is disturbing the most is desperate situations that football players find themselves in as they go club hunting, living at the mercy of unscrupulous administrators and coaches that demand bribes for one to be included in a given team list.
Over the years, sport has evolved from a mere extra curriculum activity to a serious multi-billion dollar industry that is a source of livelihood for millions across the globe.
Players and coaches feed their bellies and families out of proceeds gained from their participation in different sporting codes.
This is one idea that needs to be hammered home in the minds of those that belittle sportsmen and easily want to take advantage of them whenever the opportunity arises.
In Zimbabwe, just like in most African states, participation in different sports competitions is not so rewarding financially and anyone who picks from the little that falls on the hands of a sportsman is not only shameless but pitiless.
The other dimension to the story is the quality of teams that clubs end up assembling. Simply because of unruly and corrupt elements in the administration, clubs end up signing mediocre players that are ready to offer bribes at the expense of better players that might not be willing to pay the so called ‘appreciation fee’.
The net effect of it all at national level is that national team coaches will only select players from a pool of mediocre players while talented ones languish in the streets without any club to showcase their talents.
In the same breadth, we sincerely urge the powers that be in sports administration to mete out deterrent punishments for those found on the wrong side of sports ethics.
This is reminiscent of how FIFA ethics committee recently imposed a life ban on referee Oden Charles Mbaga of Tanzania for taking bribes.
FIFA says Mbaga was also fined 200,000 Swiss francs ($200,000).
Mbaga breached the 2009 version of its code of ethics though the investigation was opened only in July last year.
Mbaga has reportedly been linked to match-fixer Wilson Perumal of Singapore, who was involved in providing referees to corrupt international friendly games for betting scams.
Therefore, Zifa and PSL need to take stern action against those found guilty of such misdemeanours in domestic football leagues.
In all its forms, corruption must be nipped in the bud in sport.