The revelation that FIFA has handed a life ban on Mr Boniface Mwamelo, the former FAZ treasurer and vice-president after being found guilty of colluding with international match fixers to deliberately let Zambia lose a football match so that they could make millions from betting, has left us speechless.

This new, thrilling bribery scandal exhumed from the Football Association of Zambia involving the past executive is shocking in many ways. We cannot understand how a Zambian citizen, granted a rare privilege of serving in the soccer administration of the country, could deliberately give instruction to national team players to go and lose games at an international tournament, for personal enrichment.

How evil does one have to be: watching your fellow citizens gather around televisions sets, cheering a national team that you instructed to go and lose? This is the worst betrayal that anyone can ever imagine! So, when Zambians were complaining about the wastage of money on a poorly-performing Chipolopolo, someone in FAZ was getting rich from the tears of soccer fans? This is unbelievable!

We appreciate that Mr Mwamelo, a highly respected accountant in this country, denies all the charges, but we feel our readers deserve to look at the facts contained in the e-mail correspondence between him and the match fixers, as exposed by the FIFA investigators.

Facts are that on June, 2010, an international match fixing organization represented by an agent called Mr Wilson Raj Perumal, approached Mr Mwamelo and asked him to assemble a national team squad that could take part in the 2010 Cairo Olympics Tournament in Egypt. And Mr Mwamelo confirmed that he had discussed the matter with his FAZ colleagues and an Under-23 team was selected.

FAZ official (Mwamelo): “I have also ensured that the players who have been picked are only those who will listen to orders.”

Match fixer (Perumal): “If as agreed, you and your team give us your total co-operation, you and your team stand to go home with US $100,000 (about K1.2 million).

FAZ official: 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 caught, it’s a life sentence in jail! This was the most difficult part, which I have managed to sort out.

In July, 2010, Mr Perumal demanded for a breakdown of costs for the national team on a FAZ letterhead, signed by the FAZ general secretary in order for the match fixing company to release the funds. The match fixer told Mr Mwamelo that if he wanted, he could go to Cairo and pocket the money in the absence of FAZ paperwork, which secret would remain between the two of them. Mr Mwamelo even demanded for the agreed US $5,000 down payment.

But as fate would have it, the Under-23 national team boys were determined to go to Cairo and bring glory to mother Zambia, and they devotedly outplayed Cameroon and won the game – a result which went contrary to the wishes of the match fixers who apparently betted on the prospects that Zambia would lose the game.

On July 28, 2010, Mr Perumal initiated correspondence in which he was breathing fire on the FAZ official for sending a winning team to the Olympics Tournament, contrary to their agreement.

Match fixer: “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 much of the tournament. This is not what you promised me. You told me you would 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 six or seven boys who are ready to do business, we can work on something.”

FAZ official: “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.”

Sadly, the four unidentified Zambian players were dropped from future international games because they played terribly in Egypt, thereby ending their careers in a scheme, which did not earn them any money, as Mr Mwamelo confirmed.

FAZ official: “Two of the four players suspect that I was given the money and I pocketed. I am humbly requesting if you can send me something to give them so that they keep quiet. My fear is that if they continue grumbling, the stories will leak out and I will be in similar situation like the officials of the Zimbabwe Football Federation. In future, I promise, we will be better organized.”

This was the actual wording of the e-mail correspondence between our FAZ official and the international criminals who wanted to make money out of the poverty-stricken Chipolopolo boys. Citizens would be consoled if a FAZ official was making money from match fixing that was resulting in victory for Chipolopolo. But getting angry with our players for winning a game, which they were instructed to lose, is dumbfounding!

We understand Mr Mwamelo is appealing against this FIFA judgement. But until it is overturned, we have some questions. How heartless can someone be? Zambian soccer lovers and taxpayers are complaining of losing money through national team sponsorship, not knowing that some officials at FAZ are eager to reap from the loss that we suffer! This is just one exposed case, how many such match fixing scandals are yet to be exposed? What else has been happening at FAZ that we don’t know about yet?

Our suspicion actually is that Zambia probably won that game against Cameroon because another match fixer paid the Chipolopolo opponents even more money to lose the game. So, it must have been a race to the bottom. There is a serious rot in FAZ that needs to be fixed. These people who are being exposed who served under Kalusha Bwalya’s administration are not the only culprits of corruption. We have a strong feeling that the revelations of what is currently going on in the Andrew Kamanga-led executive regarding abuse of power and misappropriation of funds will be even worse.

What is stunning in this whole corruption and bribery matrix is that our Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) is failing to pin down a single FAZ official for these crimes! How can this huge investigation take place for two years and our ACC is not aware? What kind of links and connections does this ACC have? This is really embarrassing, and an indictment in our law enforcers.

As for the soccer fans, next time Chipolopolo loses, they must think twice before shedding a tear. Our boys are being paid to lose, not to win. What a shame!