Tuesday, July 28, 2009

ZAMFARA SCANDAL: Investigation Might Take Longer - Tornadoes’ Boss

Chairman of Niger Tornadoes, David Suleiman, has cautioned those calling for immediate sanction for Kaduna United and Zamfara United to thread softly, as such decision is capable of destroying the football family in Nigeria.
It would be recalled that on the last day of the Nigeria Premier League (NPL) last season, Zamfara United defeated Kaduna United by 9-0 in shocking circumstance and retained its status as a top-flight side following that scandalous result.
Suleiman pointed out that the Premier League board conducted an inquest into the whole saga following an allegation of match-fixing raised by Akwa United, which was relegated as a result of the outcome of the game between Kaduna United and Zamfara United in Gusau on June 14.
The Niger Tornadoes’ chief also compared the situation to the match-fixing scandal in Italian, which took about six years to uncover the perpetrators that led to the demotion and deduction of points from top clubs in that country such as AC Milan, Fiorentina and Juventus.
“It is difficult to really get to the root of such a situation like we have in the league. For now, the only way we can avoid such is to have a rule or law in place to forestall its recurrence in future. I have heard and read about people saying that the two clubs (Kaduna United and Zamfara United) should be punished or relegated based on that singular result. That cannot be done to be sincere because there are no evidence to prove that both clubs were involved in match-fixing.
“For example, Italy had its own problem of match-fixing and as advanced that country’s football structure is, it took some six years before the truth was revealed. I believe that one day the truth will prevail and we will know those that are behind this allegation of match-fixing in the country and that is if there is any, which we cannot rule out anyway,” said the former board member of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
In a related development, the NPL Head of Competition, Tunji Babalola, disclosed that investigation into the matter is still ongoing and that the Premier League board would continually quiz the actors of that uneventful match in Gusau in a bid to unravel the truth behind the allegation of match-fixing.
He also acknowledged that the panel investigating the matter has submitted its report and recommendation to the NPL last week.
“Though the panel that sat to investigate the matter has submitted its report and recommendation, it does not mean that the Premier League board would fold its arms and allow the matter to go without carrying out some kind of investigation. From time to time, the NPL could call on those that were involved in that match whether as a player, coach or official to explain any new development on the matter,” he said.

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