It was time to eat, but was it ‘Dinner for One?’ asks Mmegi Sport Staff Writer, MQONDISI DUBE
Almost a decade ago Mooketsi Kgotlele, decided it was his time to eat, that is, according to the Botswana Football Association (BFA), a version corroborated by FIFA this week.
The former BFA chief executive officer is football’s unwanted man following an ill-fated trip to China in 2009.
In the eyes of unsuspecting fans, the Zebras had flown out on a routine international assignment, but curiously, the opponents were unusual suspects; China. September 30, 2009 will be recorded in history as a day that brought international shame to Botswana football, thereby shining an unwanted spotlight on the diamond rich nation.
On the day, the Stanley Tshosane-led Botswana lost 4-1 to China, and while the Asian nation had the ammunition to beat the Zebras, reports of match-fixing erupted soon after. Kgotlele had remained behind in Botswana, but there were reports that he had already connived with known match fixer, Wilson Raj Perumal, to influence the result of the match and money exchanged hands.
BFA instituted investigations, and after a lengthy six-month suspension in 2009, Kgotlele was eventually dismissed from the association in 2010.
It took FIFA, a further eight years to launch investigations into the matter. Last year, October, the world soccer governing body began a probe into the Zebras’ China trip. The findings put Kgotlele guilty, and he has been banned from football for life, to go with a fine of CHf 50,000 (about P500,000).The guilty verdict was largely expected, although the nation had almost forgotten about the crime he had committed.However, after lifting the lid on the matter, the nation is now eager for more answers.
Was Kgotlele’s situation akin to the 1963 classic film, Dinner for One, where Miss Sophie was alone at the dinner table, but surrounded by several other imaginary guests?
Could Kgotlele have feasted on the traditional four-course meal alone, or the imaginary guests were not imaginary after all? How could he have executed the plan singled handedly, without the knowledge of the rest?Who ate the mulligatawny soup for the appetiser, North Sea haddock, chicken for the main course, and fruit for dessert? Did Kgotlele gobble all these? How possible is it that the other guests stood akimbo while Kgotlele tucked in?
Reports are, some emerged with shiny lips from the China trip, but is it possible they did not touch the food?
BFA president, Maclean Letshwiti said FIFA is not done yet, although he refused to disclose who and what is being investigated. “No one is safe, even me, I might be investigated. It is good to clean football. We (BFA) were aware all along that Kgotlele was being investigated,” Letshwiti said.
It is known that Kgotlele was with other guests, at the dinner table, but the critical question is; did they eat?
“Why was he the only one to be sanctioned since the plan was carried out by others? The bet was made, including the line-up, minutes of goals, and the final result, and that was precisely realised. But only the chief administrator who had not travelled, was sanctioned. Something does not add up here,” a curios football administrator queried after FIFA’s judgement this week.There are reports that some players received cash and cellular phones while in China, although it is not clear if this was linked to the bribery.
To perfectly fix a match, would naturally take more than an administrator, as the plan and instructions have to flow downstream.The Botswana case has striking similarities with the Asiagate, which rocked Zimbabwean football not too long ago.
Zimbabwe’s Warriors travelled to Malaysia and returned with every image tarnished. From the national association’s chief executive, to players, coaches and even journalists, almost everyone was implicated in an unparralleled match fixing scandal to hit the Southern African nation. While in Zimbabwe, the net closed in on a number of culprits, in Botswana, after the hearty meal, there has only been one belch.
But is it the end?
Kgotlele’s case timeline
September 30, 2009: Zebras lose 4-1 to China in a friendly match and allegations of match-fixing immediately surfaceOctober 05, 2009: BFA suspends its CEO Tosh Kgotlele over ‘disturbing incidences’ following the Zebras’ trip to China
March 25, 2010: BFA DC announces it had found Kgotlele guilty of all charges and has recommended his dismissal
April 09, 2010: DC submits its report to BFA NEC April 21, 2010: BFA fires Kgotlele
October 06, 2018: FIFA investigates Kgotlele
July 22, 2019: Kgotlele is banned for life and fined CHf 50,000