The match-fixing scandal that has rocked Harambee Stars following the publication of Fifa’s preliminary investigation, could have involved more players than initially thought, with all of them having featured for the national soccer team between 2005 to 2013.
In a 10-page preliminary report dated September 2018, Fifa accuses Harambee Stars defender George Owino Audi of masterminding match manipulation with one ”high-profile international match-fixer Mr. Wilson Raj Perumal,” between 2009 and 2011.
However, from the report, Fifa cites 14 matches which Owino featured in and which they are investigating. Fifa also mentions a Pascal, a Julius and an Edgar, who all featured for Harambee Stars during the said period.
On 16 September 2009, Mr Perumal wrote an email addressed to Mr Owino and to two other players of the Kenyan National Team (named as Julius and Pascal)14, referring to them as his “brothers”15, and giving them the following detailed instructions in relation to the upcoming 2010 FIFA World Cup South AfricaTM qualifier between Kenya and Tunisia: “U have to make up your mind if u want money or result. Note that if u loose by 1-0 to Tunisia u will end up with nothing. I want a 3-0 scoreline. I expect the score to be 2-0 in a normal game but with your assistance i can get a 3-0 scoreline. I want u to put a good fight for 25 minutes and concede 1 goal in first half from 30-45 minutes and 65th minutes 2-0 n 80th minute 3-0.”16
Furthermore, on 1 October 2009, Mr Perumal gave specific instructions of the match manipulation scheme to Mr Owino by email stating “I want 1-0 in 1st half and 3-0 in 2nd half. 1st goal in 1st half should come after 25 mins and in 2nd half the goal must come after 55 mins 2-0 and after 70mins 3-0.”1
“Lastly, on 3 October 2009, Mr Perumal once agained communicated by email with Mr Owino regarding their alleged match manipulation scheme by stating “Football matches takes place everyday. People forget
results and look forward to new matches everyday. (…) i need 4 players u,pascal, julius plus 1 new
defender. We play very hard for 30 mins and we concede 1-0 from 30-45 mins. U must concede this goal at all cost. U promise me u must do. (…) Now the 2nd half 60-75 mins concede 2nd goal. N 75 -90 the
third goal. U must concede 2 goals in the 2nd half.”
The earth- shaking report by the world football body come barely a week after Kakamega Homeboyz chairman Cleophas Shimanyula sensationally claimed that the team’s then head coach, Ugandan Paul Nkata had been involved in fixing the team’s two league matches, and the development from Fifa has further dented Kenya’s football image globally.
The ongoing match fixing investigations by world football governing body FIFA though narrowing down prominently to only one former Harambee Stars player, Owino, signals just a tip of the iceberg how the beautiful game could have been betrayed over years in Kenya.
According to FIFA, Owino through a series of email allegedly engaged in unethical conduct by appearing to have conspired in order to play under instructions for match manipulation purposes.
In the report, Perumal allegedly wanted the former Mathare United ace to also recruit unidentified Kenya national team players for them to play under instructions and manipulate results of football different matches in exchange of undue financial advantages for said conduct.
In light of the Fifa report, former Kenya FA boss Sam Nyamweya, in a statement underscored the magnitude the allegations could have dented the Kenyan game.
“Match fixing constitutes a very serious crime and a serious contravention of the principles that govern the sport of football; and for Kenya to be under the spotlight for match fixing is a serious indictment on our football structure and our ethos as a nation called Kenya.
“It is sad that the FIFA probe revelations over events that took place a decade ago have come at a time when the country is facing serious challenges to control matches manipulation in the local leagues due to the sports betting craze bug that has bitten all over the country,” said Nyamweya in a statement on Tuesday.
Poignantly, the former football boss points out the challenge of gaming firms sponsoring football teams vis-a-vis match fixing, a global issue that is not unique to Kenya.
“…FKF must have a clear policy framework guiding the involvement of bookmakers in Kenyan football yet sports betting companies are now the biggest corporate investors in our football.
“This deliberate decision to allow bookmakers into the game in the absence of clear policy guidelines is what has led us here because it has always been clear that we needed to have that in place, considering how rampant sports betting has become in this country over the past five years,” charged Nyamweya.
While it is apparent the ills under FIFA’s investigation occurred during Nyamweya’s tenure, his advice to the current regime carries weight especially with the dynamics in the football sponsorship.
His call for coordination between state organs, FKF and relevant international bodies cannot be overemphasized.
“The Ministry of Interior and Coordination of National government should instruct all national security agencies to actively take up the matter in conjunction with Interpol and FIFA to ensure this international racket has no way to operate in Kenya. Accordingly, the football federation and all it’s subordinate bodies and/or partners including but not limited to Kenya Premier League Limited and all sports betting companies involved in Kenyan football must cooperate with the agencies, namely Directorate of Criminal Investigation (DCI), National Intelligence Service (NIS) and the Director of Public Prosecution. Cast the net wider to include other sports disciplines.
“FKF, with the guidance of the FIFA Ethics Chamber, embark on the process of coming up with a policy and guidelines on the involvement of bookmakers and sports betting companies in Kenyan football as a way of stemming the deep infiltration and entrenchment of international match fixing rackets in Kenyan football through agents that they are recruiting every other day,” added Nyamweya.
In the meantime, Owino could not be reached by Citizen Digital for a comment at time of publishing this article as calls to his known number could not go through as his phone was switched off.
At the same time, FKF has kept a studious silence on the Fifa matter, with FA CEO Robert Muthomi saying he could not comment on the matter too, although president Nick Mwendwa recently told Citizen Digital in a phone interview from France that his association is keen on investigating the match fixing allegations touching Kakamega Homeboyz, once the latter tables their evidence.
“Betting is here to stay, that is for sure and match fixing cases will be more in the near future if the laid rules by FIFA will not be followed to the letter. This is a syndicated issue and those involved have networks with betting firms worldwide so we should not think it is local firms who might be involved alone,” charged Mwendwa.
The FKF supremo said they have given Kakamega Homeboyz until Thursday to produce concrete evidence against recently sacked coach Paul Nkata who is heavily linked with the scandal, before his body forms up a committee to look into the matter.
Mwendwa added that they will engage FIFA experts to deal with the case, warning that life ban is the most severe punishment for those found culpable.