By RON FANFAIR
International Soccer Federation (FIFA) president Sepp Blatter says anyone found guilty of match-fixing in a scandal that has rocked Zimbabwean soccer will be handed life bans.
National team players, including skipper Method Mwangi, told a Zimbabwe Soccer Association inquiry that they were paid to lose games on a tour of Asia two years ago.
FIFA’s anti-corruption officials will visit the African country soon to meet soccer officials and the police to conclude their inquiries into the case.
“We cannot intervene at the first stage,” said Blatter. “We must let the jurisdictional organization of the different states take action and when these people are condemned and found guilty, then we will suspend them for life. Then they will never come back to soccer.”
Players’ statements allege that Zimbabwe officials worked together with Singaporean Wilson Raj Permaul to lose matches against Syria and Thailand. A second inquiry looked at earlier tours made to Asia by Zimbabwe where they also lost to lower-ranked nations.
Meanwhile, Brazil’s sports minister has said the nation’s capital is making good progress in its preparations for the 2014 World Cup and might even qualify to host the opening game of the tournament.
The refurbishment of Brasilia’s Estadio Nacional stadium is about one-third complete, making it a strong candidate to open the tournament.
Sao Paulo wants to host the opening match, but sports minister Orlando Silva said Brazil’s biggest city is moving too slowly. Last week, Sao Paulo’s municipal government approved a $269 million tax break to facilitate the building of a stadium for the Corinthians soccer team, which will be used in the World Cup.
Brazil is hosting the World Cup for the first time since 1950.