Match-fixing row rocks football

Match-fixing row rocks football

Maseru – Lioli have accused Bantu of match-fixing after their Econet Premier League loss to ‘A Matšo Matebele’ on Sunday. In documents obtained by thepost, Lioli insist they have evidence of wrongdoing by their rivals. The accusations come following the sides’ entertaining clash at Setsoto Stadium in which Bantu ran out 4-1 winners. On Monday, Lioli wrote to the Lesotho Football Association (LEFA) and Premier League Management Committee (PLMC) accusing senior Bantu officials of making overtures to their players days before the match in an effort to persuade them to throw the game.

In the letter Lioli fingered Bantu’s vice-president Molefi Lengosane among the officials who allegedly contacted their players. ‘Tse Nala’ also claim to have the names and cell-phone numbers of all suspects. Lioli said they view Bantu’s alleged actions not only as unprofessional, but also as “a transgression of the sporting code” both nationally and internationally. The damning allegations come just a month after Bantu lost a case to Lioli in which the Mafeteng giants were found guilty of using illegally registered players during an Econet Premier League tie between the title rivals last December.

Lioli were given three points and three goals for the match which Bantu originally won 2-1. “It was with a sense of great shock and trepidation that it came to our knowledge as members of the executive committee of Lioli FC, that days before our crunch game with Bantu FC senior officials in their committee contacted some of our key players and made overtures to them to bunk our game with them,” Lioli’s letter obtained by thepost reads. “The names of the said officials and their cell phone numbers are known to us, and we will avail them to your goodselves in due course. For now we can just say that it was the CCM and vice-president to mention just few,” the statement adds.

“It is our considered opinion that the said conduct is not only unprofessional, it is a transgression of the sporting code both nationally and internationally,” Lioli’s letter continues. Lioli’s letter also states that after ‘Tse Nala’ filed their initial protest against Bantu over the sides’ December meeting, rumours began swirling that members of Lioli’s executive committee especially its president, Lebohang Thotanyana, and first vice-president, Mthwalo Mthwalo, should watch their backs as there is a plot to assassinate them because Bantu do not regard Lioli’s complaints as being purely for footballing reasons.

“Initially we had taken such news as rumours, however, yesterday (Sunday) an individual in a dark blue unmarked van sitting at the back was caught taking pictures of our 1st vice president’s motor vehicle, and upon being confronted about this, he said he was taking those pictures to go and show his folks back home what was happening in Maseru (sic),” Lioli’s letter reads. “This incident may seem as innocuous but it is certainly suspect when viewed in light with the said rumours. One wonders why of all the numerous vehicles around Maseru focus should be on the 1st vice-president’s vehicle. We therefore request the intervention of your good office, especially in respect of the match fixing allegations in the name of football fraternity in this country,” Lioli says to LEFA.

The letter concludes with the club emphasising that their “noble cause” is aimed at “ridding the football fraternity in this country of malpractices” and that “they will not be deterred no matter the consequences.” Contacted for comment, Bantu vice-president Molefi Lengosane refused to respond to the allegations. Instead he preferred to discuss Sunday’s win over Lioli saying such allegations are damaging to Bantu’s brand. Lengosane also revealed Bantu have decided to cut ties with Lioli which means no players will be exchanged between the two teams. He accused Lioli president Lebohang Thotanyana of trying to divert attention from his club’s defeat with the allegations.

“We have been patient for a long time and we have decided to cut ties with (Lioli),” Lengosane told thepost. “I don’t want to talk about Thotanyana and his allegations, I want to talk about the match we had (on Sunday),” he added. “It was a good game; we should be talking about that not these allegations that are damaging to our brand. Don’t you see this is what (Thotanyana) wanted? We took the initiative to promote this game and we should be talking about it now but you are asking me about allegations.”

Luciah Phahla

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