Banned referees to appeal, reveal mastermind
Three Mzuzu referees who were banned for life over their alleged involvement in match-fixing have implicated another referee for masterminding the vice during a Carlsberg Cup match between Nchalo United and Chitipa United at Mzuzu Stadium recently.
The referees—George Aziz Nyirenda, Limbani Chisambi and Stephano Gomani—who were banned for allegedly pocketing K15,000 from Nchalo to influence the outcome of the match in the team’s favour—have since vowed to challenge National Referees Association’s (NRA) ban.
In an exclusive interview in Mzuzu Tuesday, the referees implicated fellow referee Jimmy Phiri, who was at the stadium during the match as a spectator, as the one who pocketed the money from Nchalo officials.
The referees claim that NRA came up with the punishment without considering reports which the accused men sent to the Northern Region Referees Committee (NRRC).
The three referees insist they never got a share of the alleged K15, 000 from Nchalo.
“We have, indeed, agreed to sit down and make a collective decision. We will not rest until justice prevails on the matter. We feel that our mother body [NRA] was not fair in its ruling. We were not called for a hearing. We will let the world know what exactly happened,” Nyirenda said.
It has since emerged that second assistant referee, Lameck Phiri, whose name was earlier included on the list of the accused referees, was found innocent by NRA.
When passing the judgement, NRA gave the referees a 14-day window period—from September 25—for making an appeal.
The alleged mastermind, Jimmy Phiri, in a statement addressed to NRRC, implicated a member of the Nchalo coaching panel [name withheld] in the saga.
Jimmy Phiri said he was given the money by his “long-time friend” in the name of mzimbe (sugarcane).
“Then [name withheld] said, ‘I do not mean the real sugarcane, just wait for the secretary to come.
“Before the secretary came, I told him that I was not part of the game. But when I told my colleagues who were on duty [to get the sugarcane], they all refused. I, instead, got the money,” Jimmy Phiri confessed.
He added that, after the match, he left the stadium faster than the officiating panel, and he later saw Nchalo officials quarrelling with Nyirenda and Gomani.
Jimmy Phiri said he did not intervene in the matter.
Gomani also said when he asked the Nchalo officials for the reasons of confronting him, he was told to go away because “I denied them a goal from an off-side position”.
Nchalo Chairperson, Peter Chiipanthenga, yesterday said they would cooperate with the investigators.
“We can neither accept nor deny being involved in the act because, from the line of events, we are also sure that one of our Executive Committee members might have paid the referee.
“Now, it is not the team that was involved in the malpractice, but one member. However, we do not have concrete evidence, but I am told that, after the game, the said official was nowhere to be seen, forcing the team to wait for him for some minutes.
“It then transpired that one Nchalo official confronted referees after the match. Connecting the events, we had no doubt that it was him who did that; so, we suspended him,” Chiipanthenga said.
He further said they have also suspended Nchalo General Secretary, Enock Whayo, who was the leader of delegation to Mzuzu, for failing to give detailed information on the matter.
“No team would want to be associated with such shameful acts. This also dents the image of our sponsors and we will not condone that. We will, therefore, not shield anyone involved,” Chiipanthenga added.
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