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Probe reveals how ex-FAZ official connived with match fixers in soccer betting schemeBy Abraham Kalito on 1 Mar 2019
An investigation, through the World’s Soccer governing body FIFA has revealed how international match fixers connived with former FAZ treasurer and vice-president Boniface Mwamelo to instruct Chipolpolo Boys to lose the 2010 Cairo Olympics Tournament, in order for them to win football bets against Zambia victory prospects.
And FIFA has handed a life ban on Mwamelo from all football activities, for accepting bribes from the international match fixer named Wilson Raj Perumal with intent to manipulate results of the Under-23 squad at the tournament.
The FIFA Chamber of Ethics found Mwamelo guilty after conducting an investigation into an alleged match fixing scheme, which revealed incriminating email correspondence in which the Zambian official got downpayment from Perumal.
According to a FIFA report obtained by News Diggers, Mwamelo and match fixer Perumal, colluded to handpick national team players who could be guided on how to lose games, a move that would earn the ex-FAZ official and the selected Chipolopolo boys US$30, 000 on top of other bonuses.
The judgement quotes Mwamemlo as having written to Perumal, informing him that the activities he was indulging in were illegal in Zambia and attracted a ‘life imprisonment’ sentence.
FIFA reports that “On 29 June 2010, Perumal approached Mwamelo to assemble a squad that could “work together” in order to participate in the 2010 Cairo Olympic Tournament. In a series of correspondences exchanged on 18 July 2010, Mwamelo and Perumal discussed financial aspects in relation to the participation of the Zambia U-23 team in the Tournament, and Perumal stated that he could pay an amount of US$5,000 to Mwamelo as an advanced preparation fee.
The international match fixer wrote: “If as agreed you and your team give us your total co-operation, you and your team stand to go home with 100,000 USD,” read the statement.
In reply, Mr Mwamelo stated: “I have done my work diligently by picking boys who will listen to orders. I had to do it discreetly because such schemes are illegal in Zambia and if one is caught, it’s a life sentence in jail. This was the most difficult part which I have managed to sort out.”
On 19, 20 July 2010, another exchange of correspondence occurred in relation to financial matters, during which Mwamelo provided Perumal with official documentation from FAZ, after Perumal asked for a breakdown on official Zambia letterhead, signed by the general Secretary in order to get the funds released from his company.
Perumal added: “Or you can choose to pocket the money in Cairo if there is no such letter. It will be between the 2 of us.”
Mwamelo replied by enclosing the requested breakdown of costs and asking, “Can you send the US$5,000 as discussed?”
In an email of 28 July 2010 (a day after Zambia beat Cameroon at the tournament), Perumal accused Mwamelo of an apparent breach on their previous agreement to bring players who were ready to work and listen to instructions (presumably underperforming in the referenced match targeted for match fixing for betting purposes).
“Our agreement was that you have to bring players who are ready to work and listen to instructions. I get info from my people that this team is dying to win every match. This is not what you promised me. You told me you will handpick players who will work with me. I am not a holiday provider. I bring teams here to make money. And because of your negligence I lost lots of money. If you can bring me 6 or 7 boys who are ready to do business, we can work on something,” FIFA quoted Perumal as saying to Mwamelo.
FIFA revealed that Mwamelo complained to Perumal for accusing him of taking a determined winning team to Egypt, when in fact it was the Chipolopolo opponents who proved impossible to lose to.
“This is unfair. The four boys I worked with played according to instructions, but the Cameroon team was just too poor, they could not even beat a schoolboy team. Even with the help they had from the referees, they still could not beat a team which had boys who were tired from a long journey. I did my part and my understanding is that it did not work out due to circumstances beyond my control.”
Mwamelo also told the international match fixers that the four unidentified Zambian players whom he had “talked to” were dropped from future international games because they played terribly in Egypt, thereby ending their careers in a scheme.
“I am in a bit of a fix. While our arrangement in Egypt did not go as expected, there were 4 players whom I had spoken to before we left Zambia and they played according to instructions. The unfortunate thing is that because they played so badly in Egypt, they have been dropped from the national team. Their biggest complaint is that because they played according to instructions, it has affected their international careers and yet I did not even give them any money,” FIFA quoted Mwamelo’s email to Perumal.
On the same day, Mr Perumal replied to Mr Mwamelo: “Please note that I work for someone and I am not the boss myself. If your boys were not brought forward to the respective bosses, no payment will be made. Your boys were never given instructions and they never followed any instructions. Airfare and accommodation for Zambia was a total waste because there was no business with your boys. You let me down. I specially told you to handpick the players. But I realise you had no authority over the players.”
Mwamelo was quoted as having further colluded to manipulate results of other matches which were scheduled to be played in Finland and the Caribbean involving the U-23.
“In an email exchange from 21 July 2010, Perumal clearly stated to Mwamelo: “You will be my men behind all the Zambia work. I need an inside man and you are the right person”.
He then offers to Mwamelo to arrange various international matches for the Zambia national team in Europe, including one match in Finland or Amsterdam, as well as one against Jamaica in September or October 2010, indicating that he would pay US$30,000 per match to Mwamelo and his players.
“In conclusion, Mr Mwamelo is hereby banned for life from taking part in any football related activity (administrative, sports or any other) at national and international level. In addition, Mr Mwamelo shall pay a fine of CHF 10,000,” read the FIFA statement.
Mwamelo has confirmed receipt of the FIFA judgement, denying any involvement in any match fixing schemes, and saying that he intends to appeal the ban. He said he would do everything within his means to clear his name.
About Abraham Kalito
Abraham Kalito is a Zambian journalist interested in writing business, political, and human interest stories.
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