Storm at Gor as match-fixing allegations rock club
EXCLUSIVE Tony Owori in Nairobi
Gor Mahia FC have been rocked by allegations of match-fixing, with the club hierarchy confirming there is an ongoing in-house probe into the matter.
Already knocked out of continental football, the Kenyan champions have been on a shocking run of form in the domestic front and shocking claims have suggested some of those results might have been manipulated.
Key figures at the club have raised questions about the manner in which Gor are losing some matches. All clubs endure rough patches but Gor’s downturn has been rapid – some pointing out the recruitment process of new players as the major undoing while some pointing out certain critical events in matches that are attributed to the alleged match-fixing.
Speaking exclusively to Citizen Digital, Gor Mahia Chairman Ambrose Rachier stated that there are allegations and investigation is underway.
“We’ve had allegations of match-fixing going on in the club and we are treating the issue with the seriousness that it deserves. Investigations are on and we will get to know what’s there,” Rachier told Citizen Digital on Monday.
The club’s Secretary General Sam Ochola also confirmed there are rumours of match-fixing sizzling in the air with marked matches pointing to that direction. An in-house probe is on to establish the truth with dire consequences likely to follow.
“The issue of match-fixing is gaining traction and we are concerned. We are investigating some players and club officials mentioned as possible contributors to these acts of match-fixing….Some of these games we have lost clearly direct us to believe it’s happening,” Secretary General Ochola noted.
Gor have so far lost to Vihiga United and very lately to Posta Rangers.
The same sentiments were also echoed by head coach Manuel Vaz Pinto. ‘’We’ve had some bad days and indeed, there are some questionable incidents and it could be true or it could be just a perception but the thing is, these things happen not just in Kenya but also elsewhere,” Coach Pinto told Citizen Digital.
Gor Mahia have lost two back-to-back matches before this international break and things are not going down well with players skipping training sessions for four days now in demand for salary arrears – a matter that the club’s Secretary General Sam Ochola commented on by saying: “I know players have not been paid but this is being looked into and should be sorted before end month. There are no notable go-slow as is purported, but the salary issue is a matter of concern and some players are hurting due to this delay in payments.”
FIFA already raised a red flag on match-fixing in Kenya and Football Kenya Federation had a meeting with all top league clubs leadership over the weekend to address the issue and Secretary General Ochola says the club is ready to adhere to any directive issued.
“The directive from the Federation and FIFA will be fully adhered to. Gor Mahia FC believes in FIFA fair play policy and will do everything possible to ensure that football doesn’t lose its meaning to fraudsters who’ve only been driven by an appetite for profit at the expense of the game.”
The vice of match-fixing seems to be secretly sweeping through Kenyan football and authorities are failing to appropriately curb it. Last year, FIFA banned then four Kakamega Homeboyz players – Moses Chikati (Kenyan), Festus Okiring (Kenyan), Festo Omukoto (Kenyan) and George Mandela (Ugandan) over match-fixing.
On their ban, FIFA stated that: “Formal disciplinary proceedings against the players stemmed from an investigation into various matches from the Kenyan Premier League in 2019. This investigation was conducted by FIFA through its Integrity Department with the consent of and in cooperation with the relevant stakeholders and authorities.”
Match-fixing is coming in all forms and as Bandari Media Liaison Steven Heywood who is responsible for social media live match updates tells Citizen Digital, the match fixtures are on the ground and can always issue threats to allow them to do their thing.
“In 2019, I was approached by strangers to delay match updates so as they can do what they wanted… these mostly happened in league matches we had in remote areas and the matches were not televised. They went as far as issuing threats so that I stop or delay my updates with like 10 minutes,” said Heywood.
Just two months ago, detectives in Kisumu arrested a Ugandan man for allegedly trying to fix a Kenyan Premier League match involving Western Stima and KCB. According to police, Niwagira Ronald Mwine had met a number of parties with an aim of manipulating the match after giving out Sh10,000 ‘for lunch’ and an offer of about Sh500,000 upon successful execution of the project – losing the game – as per instructions.
After the Western Stima storm, the club instituted a purge dropping 13 players.