A MALAWIAN football agent has written to world-governing body Fifa and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) linking suspended Zifa chief executive Henrieta Rushwaya to Asian betting syndicates.
Rushwaya was suspended on Wednesday by Zifa president Cuthbert Dube to facilitate progress in investigations into the national side’s Malaysia tour last December where players were allegedly paid to throw matches.
Felix Sapao, the Malawian football agent, wrote to Fifa and Caf alleging that Rushwaya and a Zimbabwean Fifa-licensed agent, Kudzi Shaba, allegedly tried to get his home country involved with the syndicates.
Shaba denied the allegations, while Rushwaya said she could not comment.
Rushwaya said: “Information you have is being used as part of the investigations. It will be folly for me to comment on the matter.”
In an email to Fifa development officer for Southern Africa Ashford Mamelodi, and Caf secretary general Mustapha Famy, Sapao claimed that Rushwaya tried to link him with Asian businessmen when Malawi hosted Guinea in a World Cup qualifier last year.
Sapao is also the local agent for French television marketing company SportFive.
In the email, Sapao claimed Rushwaya called him advising that a friend of hers was coming to Malawi and that he should organise accommodation for him.
“This person came and introduced himself as someone who organises matches in Asia, and has done so for Zimbabwe and Botswana,” wrote Sapao.
The person in question is one Wilson Raj Perumal, who represents a Singapore-based company called Events and Projects Executive.Raj Perumal acted as the contact person with Sapao.
As part of his work with SportFive, Sapao manages African Champions League matches for Zimbabwean clubs’ home matches. He is also a consultant for Congolese club TP Mazembe, who won the Champions League last year. Sapao also claims that his second encounter with Rushwaya’s “friend” was when Mazembe were camping in Harare following their Champions League success last year.
“I received a call from Henrieta’s friend,” wrote Sapao. “He then told me that he runs a betting syndicate and wanted to talk to four players from TP Mazembe, offering US$150 000 to each of the players and offering me US$300 000. He informed me that he would be able to buy me cars as he had bought Henieta (a jeep and a Mazda CR9) cars and Kudzi a car (E240 Mercedes).”
Sapao claims in the email that he reported the offer to TP Mazembe coach Diego Garzito and someone from the Congolese embassy in Harare.
Another offer, Sapao alleged, was tabled before him, this time by Shaba.
“He (Shaba) wanted me to organise games in Asia for Malawi junior teams,” Sapao claimed. “What was puzzling me is that he insisted that the teams should lose the games and get paid by sponsors in Asia.”
Shaba said he was shocked by the allegations when contacted for comment last night.
“I don’t know what he is talking about,” Shaba said. “I have never entered into any deal of that nature with him. The last time I had some kind of a confrontation with him was when I brought over a player from Malawi to play for Caps FC. He was not happy about something but it wasn’t a big issue. I don’t know why he is trying to smear me.”
Sapao confirmed writing the emails to Fifa and Caf, but declined to give more details.
Another email obtained shows Raj Perumal trying to get Sapao to link him up with Malawian referees.
If the referees “co-operated” with him, he would pay each referee US$20 000 and US$10 000 for the linesmen. Sapao stood to pocket US$10 000 for facilitating the deal.
In addition, Raj Perumal would influence the referees’ appointments at last January’s African Nations Cup finals in Angola.
It is understood Raj Perumal failed to get a breakthrough with the Nations Cup appointments because a Malawian who sits on the Caf referees committee had knowledge of the syndicates.
Malawi ended up with one referee at the tournament.
Before the World Cup, Raj Perumal allegedly tried to influence Sapao, who was the match agent, to appoint a Zimbabwean referee for a warm-up match between Japan and Mozambique. He referred to the referee as “my FIFA referee” in an email.
“I will pay you (Sapao) $5 000 and the referees will come from Zimbabwe,” wrote Raj to Sapao.
Ashley Marimo/Enock Muchinjo