SPORT. The Italian 2006 match fixing scandal that has been known to be the highest controversy in European football in the twenty first century did not only see clubs Milan, Lazio and Reggina banned from European competitions but Juventus was relegated to serie B and stripped off of two previous titles.
There was to be massive exodus of star players from particularly Juventus and point deductions, individuals were given hefty penalties ranging from cash fines, bans from football and jail sentences as well as warnings depending on the extend of one’s involvement.
Massive resignations from Club boards to football administrators, this was a very challenging moment in Italian football indeed, the parties investigating the allegations stood up to the challenge and today Italian football may not be 100% clean but there is no reason to believe it is not, at least not yet.
Such events and so many other match fixing scandals in football history teach a direct lesson to the recent red flag raised by Onduparaka FC in regards to match fixing in Uganda’s top tier club football.
“As a club we have played our role, so many of these things are happening in the league but clubs are sitting on it and we are the first club in the country that has come boldly to say someone is trying to bribe, promised $10,000 to manipulate our game results and if we were other clubs, we would have accepted the money”, claimed Mr Adams Lematia, Onduparaka FC spokesperson.
Lematia also known as Otelul says the club is willing to cooperate and adduce evidence with football governing body FUFA in the event that an investigation is launched into the allegation.
However he raises a damming question on the willingness of the football governing body to unearth the rot.
“If they send someone to do investigations, everything will be submitted to them, there are so many things which have been taken to FUFA but at the end of the day they kick you back, so as a club you feel like even if you take this to them, it will be the same old story”
“Like how many times have we complained to FUFA about our players and how many times have we lost in the federation”, Lematia asked.
He responding after the club was heavily criticized by FUFA for taking to social media to air out their grievances instead of lodging an official complaint.
“This issue was never raised by Onduparaka to us but they went to social media, May be Onduparaka knows these are allegations they cannot support, If a thief breaks into your house and you don’t go to police, the case will never take off” Mr Decolas Kizza, the FUFA vice chief executive officer (CEO) in charge of football said.
“But since we are interested, we shall formally communicate to the club to substantiate, that’s all I can say, nothing much”, Kizza further said before declining to answer any further questions.
Mujib Kassule speaks out
Proline chairman Mr Mujib Kasule when asked about the latest allegation barely two years after the Dan Kidega commission said the country’s football has a big problem to deal with.
“If the club has done some investigation and found some big issues, I think they are right to raise them and I think the powers that be should immediately get in touch with Onduparaka to get information and do an investigation”, Kasule said.
“It will be bad if we people in the game all keep quiet about it yet the red flag has been raised, if this was happening in the UK and an issue comes like this immediately it will become a national issue and the club will be called to substantiate and an action will be taken”.
He continued “we need to have a candid discussion as football stakeholders in regard to what people are alleging because the allegations have been around for some time but we don’t seem to have the willingness to tackle the problem” A concerned Kasule lamented during an interview with West Nile Web.
Despite saying his club is vigilant, Kasule expresses fear that “if the rumours of match fixing are going around, we are concerned that it might eventually reach our club that is if it has not reached us yet”
“As Proline, we have not had any serious allegation but the best solution is to tackle the cancer before it reaches the entire football body and we must be led by the federation” he says.
From the 1980 Totenero in Italy to the 1982 Austria Vs. West Germany game, the 1993 events that led to Marseille to be stripped off of the tittle to the conspiracy of countries like the case of the 1984 Africa cup of nations that resulted into the elimination of Ghana, corruption in the game has had many facets.
The events in football history unfortunately also point to a sophisticated system that is extremely difficult to unearth.
The financial woes of most of Uganda premier league clubs where players are some times reported to miss salaries for month’s points to vulnerability on their side.
If the allegations of match fixing with an offer as big as $10,000 can be substantiated, then the magnitude of the temptation can’t be underestimated.
FUFA’s next steps in this ‘serious matter’ as pointed by their communication officer will be viewed with double lenses especially with sections of the football world already criticizing the body for not doing enough after the Dan Kidega commission.
So will FUFA investigate these allegations? We all have our fingers crossed!