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Ex-Stars defender Owino banned for 10 years

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Former Harambes Stars defender Owino banned for 10 years for match fixing

NAIROBI, Kenya, Apr 24 – Former Harambee Stars defender George ‘Wise’ Owino has been handed a 10-year ban by the world football governing body FIFA for match fixing and slapped with a Sh1.5mn fine.

Owino who has been out of active football since the case was first notified to the Football Kenya Federation and his former club Mathare United has been banned from taking part in any kind of football-related activity at both national and international level (administrative, sports or any other) for a period of 10 years.

The ruling was delivered on Thursday evening by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee which also dished out life bans to eight others, including former Sierra Leone skipper Ibrahim Kargbo.

The nine were found guilty of having been involved in match manipulation in violation of article 69 par. 1 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code (Unlawfully influencing match results).

The formal disciplinary proceedings into the individuals stemmed from an extensive investigation into various international matches that one Wilson Raj Perumal, a convicted international match fixer, attempted to manipulate for betting purposes.

This large-scale investigation was conducted by FIFA over several years through its Integrity Department and in cooperation with the relevant stakeholders and authorities.

Mathare United skipper George Owino celebrates a goal in a past match with teammate Lennox Ogutu. PHOTO/Raymond Makhaya

Owino was accused by the world governing body for playing an integral role in fixing several national team games with Perumal and his former club Mathare United and the Federation were notified of the charge last year.

According to the FIFA report released in September 2018, Owino, through Perumal, conspired to manipulate and influence the result of international matches involving Kenya and was also used to try and recruit other players to aid in the ploy.

FIFA’s probe put in a detailed report that pointed out 14 matches in which Owino was actively involved in including a World Cup qualification match pitting Kenya and Nigeria which the latter won 3-2 at Kasarani to sail to the 2010 World Cup.

Also under radar was the qualifier between Kenya and Tunisia for the same World Cup in 2010.

“I want you to put a good fight for 25 minutes and concede one goal in first half from 30-45 minutes, another at the 65th minute, and the third in the 80th. F*** the game and take the money; $25,000 (Sh2.5mn) is a lot of money,” Perumal offered in a September 17, 2009 email.

Kenya went on to lose the match 1-0, against Perumal’s orders.

Tunisia’s player Fahid Khalfala fights for the ball against Kenyan player Dennis Oliech during a 2010 World Cup qualifier in 2009. PHOTO/FIFA

Also, Owino was accused in the FIFA dossier to have, alongside Perumal, tried to manufacture a transfer to Australia where he would be used to fix more matches in exchange of money.

Owino was set to receive a Sh3mn monthly salary, but all this was strictly to go to Perumal’s script.

“If I say lose, you do as I say, or else you won’t see your salary,” Perumal told Owino in one of the email exchanges.

All this evidence was contained in a series of e-mail exchanges between the two in which, according to the probe, Owino was readily throwing himself into.

The FIFA probe also says Owino conspired with Perumal to manipulate matches of the Nile Basin Tournament in Egypt in 2011.

Perumal offered $60,000 (Sh6mn) for Kenya to lose its matches, but Owino told Perumal he was not in the Kenyan team to Egypt, but would help recruit two players on the squad and earn a commission.

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