A player who left Zoo FC almost two seasons ago for Tusker is one of the many from the Kericho-based club who were gravely mentioned in match-fixing reports that Fifa pegged their decision to expel Zoo from the Kenyan Premier League .
Fifa also cited Zoo matches against Wazito and Sofapaka as some of the games that could have been manipulated as the world football governing body as match fixing allegations once again cast a long shadow on Kenyan leagues.
Fifa on Tuesday ordered the Kenyan FA to immediately evict Zoo from the top tier after they were found guilty of “match manipulation”.
“The club is hereby expelled from the Kenyan Premier League season 2020/21 as of the date of notification of the present decision. The Committee also hereby orders the relegation of the first team of the club to the FKF Division One for next season.”
But Zoo quickly distanced themselves from any wrongdoing with the club owner Ken Okoth saying that they will appeal the decision.
“They (FIFA) are saying that they don’t have evidence against players but that in these matches (against Sofapaka and Wazito) some markets pulled out and that the club could have been fixing matches,” said Ken Ochieng who claims that it is actually Zoo that blew the whistle on the match fixing allegation at his club.
Zoo will now play two divisions down if they lose the appeal after they were relegated to th FKF Division One league.
“I will seek stay order execution at CAS because there is a provision to continue with the league when we are still going on with the case,” vowed Okoth.
Zoo has 30 days to appeal.
“I’m confident we’ll win this case. I’m not worried because they (Fifa) are saying that the club is liable simply because we didn’t punish the players but what more could I have done?
“I fired them,”
But FKF has since executed the Fifa order by expelling the club from the top tier that is expected to resume in the coming weeks following the recent suspension of all sports activities in Kenya.
“We are in receipt of correspondence from Fifa with regard to Fifa Disciplinary Committee ruling against your club on grounds of manipulation of football matches and competition. In view of the aforementioned decision, FKF has expelled your club from the 2020/21 FKF Premier League season and relegated Zoo FC to the National Super League (NSL) for the season 2020/21,” read part of a statement from FKF.
But Ochieng faulted the federation for rushing to kick away Zoo from the top tier, arguing that the 30-window period had not lapsed.
“The legal process is not yet over but FKF were too quick to act for obvious reasons,” added Ochieng.
Some of the players cited in the ruling, SPORTS AFRICA understands, last played for Zoo two seasons ago, meaning that Fifa could have pegged their investigations to matches dating as far back as 2018.
Some of the players mentioned by a trusted source include Michael Madoya who joined Tusker in 2018 and Danson Chetambe who left the club for Bandari in 2019.
“There are some losses that we couldn’t explain. Even our coach had complained and so it is us who blew up the whistle. We even wrote to the federation to help up arrest this vice, so what more can a club do,” said Ochieng.
Madoya was named the best KPL player of the season that campaign.
There have been a number of incidents of match fixing in the Kenyan league in the recent years.
In February 2020, Fifa Disciplinary Committee handed three former Kakamega Homeboyz players a four-year ban over the same allegations.
The four include Moses Chikati Festus Okiring, who left Homeboyz for Ulinzi Stars, Festo Omukoto, and Ugandan international and ex-Kakamega Homeboyz player George Mandela, who was handed a life ban from all football-related activities.
In January 2020, Zoo fired three players — Sammy Sindani, Norman Werunga and Martin Elungat — over match fixing allegations, a point that Okoth plans to use to argue his case when he finally lodges the appeal.