An oasis of integrity

Petros Kausiyo Deputy Sports Editor
NORMAN MATEMERA’S star continues to shine, with the top Zimbabwean referee being highly commended by the Confederation of African Football for resisting attempts to bribe him into influencing the outcome of a Confederation Cup match in Bata, Equatorial Guinea last week.

CAF have written to Matemera saluting the Harare policeman for upholding the principles of Fair Play and integrity in the game following his decision to reject a $10 000 cash bribery to manipulate the CAF Confederation play-off match between home side Desportivo Niefang and Williamsville Athletic of Cote d’Ivoire.

The continental body wrote a similar letter to South Africa’s Victor Gomes who resisted a $30 000 cash offer to influence another Confederation Cup match in Nigeria.

The CAF letter to Matemera — written by Anthony Baffoe, the CAF Deputy Secretary General for Football & Development — read:

“We would like to take this opportunity to appreciate your excellent attitude and honesty shown during the incident that took place on the occasion of the match Desportivo (Equatorial Guinea) and Williamsville Athletic Club (Cote d’Ivoire).

‘’You have all those affluences which accolades in a good and honest referee.

“We praise your positive attitude and your ethical abilities to ensure a fair play during your games. With determination and urge to always go an extra mile while refereeing, you have successfully brought a lot of fame to CAF.

‘’With your significant contribution, we are changing the mind sets to ensure Fair Play.

“Your devotion towards work is inspiring other referees which mitigates the reluctance in work and strengthen the motivation among your colleagues. We are pleased to have you on our team. You deserve high praise for the way you handled the matter.

“Thank you for giving CAF your best. May you enjoy all the success in your entire endeavours,’’ wrote Baffoe.

Gomes was also commended for his bold decision to wave away the $30 000 that had been dangled before him.

“We would like to take this opportunity to appreciate your excellent attitude and honesty shown during the incident that took place on the occasion of the match Plateau United FC (Nigeria) and U.S.M (Algeria).

‘’You have all those affluences which accolades in a good and honest referee . . . ,’’ CAF said of Gomes.

On the same day that CAF heaped praise on Matemera, they also handed the Zimbabwean official another tough Confederation Cup assignment.

Matemera has been appointed to take charge of the opening Confederation Cup Group A game pitting Ivorian giants ASEC Mimosas and Aduana Stars of Ghana at the Stade Felix Houphouet Boigny on                             May 6.

In that game the referee, who on Sunday handled the Harare Derby between CAPS United and Dynamos, will be assisted by Brighton Nyika, Salani Ncube and fourth official Nomore Musundure.

Benin’s Marius Hougban will be the match commissioner.

An excited Matemera told The Herald yesterday he was humbled with the confidence that CAF had placed on him.

“All I can say is thank you to CAF for the faith they are placing in Zimbabwean referees particularly me. I promise that I will not stop working hard and perform to the best of my ability.

“I also want to thank my colleagues who have been assisting me to reach this far. These appointments also help in covering up for the December 2017 disappointment during CHAN preparation where I got injured,’’ Matemera said.

This is the fifth time this year that Matemera has received a direct CAF appointment but the Harare referee believes the assignment in Abidjan will be his biggest so far in the season.

Ghanaian and Ivorian clubs enjoy a great rivalry while ASEC, who beat Dynamos in the 1998 Champions League final, also have a huge following in Abidjan where they are the glamour club.

There was drama on the eve of the match in Bata last week as Desportivo Niefang officials, working in cahoots with Togolose

match commissioner Lawson Mahuwe as their emissary, tried to offer Matemera and his assistants a cash bribe of $10 000 to ensure the Equatorial Guinea side won the match to advance to the group stage of the competition.

ZIFA Referees Committee vice-chairman, Gladmore Muzambi, has hailed Matemera. We are saying to our international referees, and indeed the local ones, we must always uphold the integrity tenets which entails recognising, resisting and reporting any attempts of match manipulation.

“You must recognise that there are attempts to fix a match, you must resist those attempts and you must report those attempts. In this regard we feel proud that our referees did just that.

‘’It is quite unfortunate that in this case it involved a match commissioner and it is a situation which makes you wonder who is going to guard the guard when those entrusted to guard are the guilty ones because the match commissioner was the one being used as the go-between in the home team’s bribery attempts.

“But really what Matemera did speaks volumes of our honesty as a country on such issues.

“The referee reported the matter to CAF and I believe CAF are already seized with it. We believe CAF have adequate machinery to deal with such issues. It is so sad that after the referees turned down their bribery offer, the club dumped them and they had to pay for their own meals at the hotel as well as transport to the airport.’’