NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 4 – Four former Kakamega Homeboyz players have been handed bans by FIFA over match fixing, the world governing body having conducted investigations over the claims last year.
Ugandan George Mandela has been banned for life while Festo Omukoto, Festus Okiring and Moses Chikati have been banned for four years.
Mandela had already left the club once the allegations surfaced while Omukoto has just joined Western Stima and Okiring joined the army.
Chikati was still at the club but wasn’t playing much since the allegations.
“In particular, given his central role in the conspiracy, the player George Mandela, Uganda, has been banned from taking part in any kind of football-related activity at national and international level (administrative, sports or any other) for life.”
“Moreover, the following individuals have been banned from taking part in any kind of football-related activity at national and international level (administrative, sports or any other) for a period of four (4) years.” FIFA said in a statement in Friday.
Homeboyz chairman Cleophas Shimanyula said he was sorry for the players, but happy justice was done.
“FIFA came and did an independent investigation and had their findings. This is what we had been crying for last year and now everyone can see that we were not mad,”
“I feel sorry for the players because four years is a long time. Mandela is banned for life and now his football is over. We were always talking to them and telling them not to engage in these vices but now it has come back to haunt them,” Shimanyula further stated.
Shimanyula had accused several players, including then coach Paul Nkata of match fixing after the team’s results started dwindling. Nkata was fired and several players who had been found downright guilty by the club’s independent investigations dropped.
“We presented the same case to FKF but unfortunately they didn’t take much interest in it. We are happy that FIFA took it up and they haven’t taken much time because the evidence was overwhelmingly clear,” Shimanyula stated.
He says that they would have finished the season better last year had they discovered the match fixing allegations earlier and acted on them.
-Working with a ‘fixer’
According to sources close to Capital Sport a ‘match fixer’ was working with some players to influence matches to affect betting with half time results as well as an ‘over’ result which was said to be the most preferred.
The source further intimates that the ‘fixer’ would give the players a certain amount to influence matches and the ‘fixer’ would in turn place bets in Casinos on the exact results desired for hueg financial windfall.
FIFA are said to have hugely dug in on the players’ phone call, text messaging and WhatsApp records as well as their Mobile Money accounts in getting the evidence to nail them.
Mandela is said to have been the most involved including recruiting the best placed players to influence the results and hence his hefty ban.
This comes barely a year after former Harambee Stars defender George ‘Wise’ Owino was banned for 10 years by FIFA over the same, for helping in fixing national team matches.
The scourge of betting has been dominating the Kenyan Premier League scene for the past three years with coaches often raising complains that players have been fixing and betting on their own matches.
The KPL management currently doesn’t have a strong framework that govern players and betting activity, but the latest happenings will jolt them into action especially at a time when the league is facing financial tough times.