Ref offered Afcon bribe

The local referee says he was offered a “brown envelope” ahead of his officiating of an Afcon qualifier in Rwanda on Sunday afternoon.

11 September 2018 | Sports

Namibian referee Jackson Pavaza has reported a bribery incident to the Confederation of African Football (CAF), saying he was offered a “brown envelope” in Kigali, Rwanda on Sunday, ahead of his officiating of a match between the hosts and Ivory Coast.

The clash was a Group H 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier and took place at the Stade Régional Nyamirambo.

Pavaza was in charge, while three other Namibian officials, David Shaanika, Shoovaleka Nehemia and Matheus Kanyanga, were his assistants.

The match ended 2-1 in favour of Ivory Coast.

Pavaza, who is last year's Namibian Referee of the Year, said before the match started, he was approached by two men who offered him a “brown envelope” in order to manipulate the outcome of the clash.

African countries are fighting tooth and nail for a spot to compete at the Afcon tourney next year.

A total of 51 teams, including Namibia, are battling it out for qualification, while hosts, Cameroon, qualified automatically.

At the finals, 24 teams will be drawn into six groups of four sides each.

Pavaza said one of the men who offered him the brown envelope claimed to be the Rwanda Football Federation secretary-general, but initially said he does not know whether the person was indeed the incumbent, Francois Regis Uwayezu. However, after being sent a picture of Uwayezu by Namibian Sun, Pavaza confirmed it was indeed him

The other man, Pavaza said, was Rwandan football official, Eric Ruhamiriza.

“The money was in an envelope. I did not try to count it or see how much it I was. I just told them that I do not accept any gifts from anyone, as per CAF regulations. I rejected it and reported the matter to CAF,” Pavaza said.

This is the third time he has been offered a bribe before a match.

In June, Pavaza spoke out about a bribe being offered before a CAF Confederations Cup match between Morocco's Raja Casablanca and Ghana's Aduana Stars that took place in May.





He had previously also turned down an alleged bribe from Angolan outfit Kabuscorp de Palanca, before their crucial CAF Champions League match in 2015 against El Merreikh of Sudan.

Pavaza said he rejected these bribe offers in order to protect his integrity and refereeing career.

Namibia Football Association (NFA) president Frans Mbidi was surprised yesterday to hear the news that Pavaza had been offered another bribe, and said he will report the matter to the football body's secretariat.

“Our officials are aware of the seriousness nature of bribery. Refereeing is a career for them and they should always have a high level of integrity and professionalism. Match manipulation will lead to a ban. So to avoid that we continuously educate them on the dangers,” Mbidi said.

CAF has a zero-tolerance for bribery and earlier this year struck senior Kenyan referee, Aden Range Marwa, off the list of match officials for the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia, after he was caught on camera receiving a US$600 bribe, in order to influence the outcome of an international match.

Marwa received a life ban from refereeing soon after, as CAF tries to crackdown on bribery, in order to keep the game as clean as possible

Earlier this year, Togolese Yanissou Bebou and Gambian Jallow Ebrima were also banned for ten years each, while Ivory Coast referee Denis Dembele, a regular on the African national and club fixtures circuit, received a six-year ban from all football related activities. In June, Fifa also removed the Saudi Arabian refereeing team from its list of World Cup officials after one of the officials, Fahad Al-Mirdasi, received a life ban for trying to fix a cup match in Saudi Arabia.

It was also reported before the Russia World Cup, which ended in July, that Fifa's sponsorship revenue from the global showpiece was set to plummet amid bribery scandals involving football's governing body over the last three years.

A report by Nielsen, a leading global information and measurement company, predicted that Fifa would see a US$179 million dip in sponsorship revenue at the Russia edition of the tournament, compared to the previous Brazil World Cup in 2014.

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