Local referees open to bribes – report

On duty: Referees being escorted off the pitch during a league match PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG
On duty: Referees being escorted off the pitch during a league match PIC: PHATSIMO KAPENG

FRANCISTOWN: A commission investigating match-fixing allegations following a leaked audio clip between the Botswana Football Association (BFA) general manager Monnakgotla Mojaki and referee, Joshua Bondo has raised concerns inadequate remuneration amongst local match officials makes them vulnerable.

The investigating team made up of human resources expert, Leviet Ntwaagae and attorneys, Simon Mmopi and Mboki Chilisa, found these vulnerabilities leave match officials susceptible to bribery or manipulation. The investigation by the commission came as a result of an audio clip where there was a discussion suggesting the possibility of match-fixing. Bondo appeared to shrug off advances to influence the outcome of a Premier League match as Mojaki pleaded with him to meet up with a certain Zakhem. The report has since concluded that the Zakhem being referred to is Gaborone United financer, Nicholas Zakhem. The commission submitted its report to the association in June. The BFA has reneged on its promise to make the findings public.

Mmegi Sport is in possession of the report and one of the key concerns raised by the commission is that most local referees are not gainfully employed and this exposes them to manipulation by club officials. The commission also said it has established that there is a disparity in payment of referees, which is caused by uneven allocation of matches or fixturing. “This also creates a risk of referees being amenable to match-fixing,” reads part of the 14-page document. The report recommended that the BFA and BFL should consider introducing a retainer fee for referees who are not employed outside the BFA. “The allowance would cushion referees financially and reduce the risk of exposure to match-fixing and manipulation temptations.” In its submissions to the BFA, the commission emphasised that both the BFA and BFL should take responsibility and facilitate workshops to address the dangers of match-fixing. “The objective of the awareness training should be to empower match officials, referees, staff and football administrators against unethical conduct and practices that have the potential to tarnish the good image of football in Botswana,” stated the report.

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