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Ugandan match-fixing king-pin banned

FILE PHOTO; Local football faces new challenge of betting and match-fixing

How FUFA Banned Football Officials, Journalist Over Match Fixing

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Federation of Uganda’s Football Associations (FUFA) has banned three officials from taking part in any kind of football activities at the national and international level over match-fixing. These are former Police FC Marketing and Sales Manager Abraham Luzzi, local football coach James Kaweesa and sports journalist David Isabirye.

According to a statement released by FUFA, in the three decisions made by FUFA disciplinary committee, the trio was found guilty of breaching the respective articles of the FUFA Ethics and Disciplinary Code.

In FUFA’s ruling, Abraham Luzzi was banned for ten (10) years because he was found guilty of breaching Articles 27, 31, and 44 of the FUFA Ethics and Disciplinary Code, all related to the manipulation of football matches and competitions, failure to report, and breach of general duties.

The trio was accused of influencing and manipulating results of the Stanbic Uganda Cup round –of-64 match, between Tooro United and Five Stars Entebbe. This game ended in a goalless draw but Tooro United later ejected Five stars Entebbe on penalties.

“Mr. Luzzi was found guilty for approaching a player to influence and manipulate the result of the Uganda Cup match between Five Stars FC and Tooro United FC”. reads a statement from FUFA.

In the same development, James Kaweesa was also banned for fifteen (15) years from taking part in any kind of football activities at the National and International levels. Although Kaweesa was slapped with a heavier punishment, he was found guilty of the same offense.

Additionally, local journalist David Isabirye was also banned for two 2 (two) years from national and international football-related issues.

“Mr. Isabirye breached Article 31 (Failure to report) of the FUFA Ethics and Disciplinary Code; he is banned for failure to report the illegal conduct of Mr. Abraham Luzzi and Mr. James Kaweesa who approached a player to influence and manipulate the result of the Uganda Cup match between Five Stars FC and Tooro United FC,”reads a statement from FUFA.

According to FUFA, “Isabirye also failed to provide valid and acceptable evidence to show that he had fulfilled his duty to report the illegal conduct.”

Kaweesa admits involved in betting, unhappy with ban

In an interaction with Uganda Radio Network-URN, Kaweesa, a local football coach with a club he opted to keep anonymous, confessed that he was involved in the match-fixing deal although says he was uncomfortable with the punishments by the local governing body.

“I have a friend of mine who stays in Sweden, he called me and told me he wanted to bet a game between Totoro United and Five stars, but he told me to look for any player from Five-stars Entebbe whom he could compromise,” Kaweesa briefly explained.

“I started looking for a player and after making some research, I got to know that there is a player who has been involved in match-fixing before, his name is Jackson Kigozi who is the goalkeeper for the Five stars FC, immediately I got his contacts and I talked to him on the phone about the matter, he accepted and asked for 800,000 Shillings”

Kaweesa further explained that he agreed to meet with the player and finalize the deal. On the day, Kaweesa was supposed to meet Kigozi, he first met “his friend” David Isabirye, a sports journalist on a training pitch (Kataka). By this time, Isabirye had come with Abraham Luzzi who was searching for players to recruit for Police FC before the January window.

According to Kaweesa, who “sometimes works as a football coach”, he then met Luzzi and linked him to one of the players’ he owns as a coach, consequently, Luzzi later gave him a lift to the place he was supposed to meet Jackson Kigozi to finalize the deal.

He narrates: “I train with Isabirye on the same pitch, that is Kataka in Nkumba, so the day I was supposed to meet Jackson, I left the pitch where I was training from with Isabirye to go and meet Jackson, but Isabirye asked me to meet his friend Luzzi who was looking for players to recruit for Police after I asked them to give a lift to a place where is supposed to meet Jackson.

“They agreed to take me and I met Jackson, but no sooner had I met Jackson that the Police and the management of Five stars FC arrived and I was arrested, but with Abraham Luzzi who I did not even know.”

But, while in custody where Kaweesa spent the night Luzzi, he narrates that he was shocked after hearing accusations from Five stars FC management that linked Luzzi to the match-fixing offense.

“I was taken to Bayita Police Station and the management of the Five star accused Luzzi that he had come to give Jackson money, but I was shocked because this was between me and Jackson alone, but I was released on Police bond the following day.”

“I was later summoned by the FUFA Disciplinary committee and without wasting time I pleaded guilty, although I think the punishment is very heavy”. Kaweesa said.

In an interaction with URN, Abraham Luzzi who made it clear that he resigned at Police FC a week back after getting a new role as the Director of Football at Tooro United, trashed the decisions by the FUFA Ethics and Disciplinary committee claiming that they did not have enough evidence.

“They alleged that I had an influence in some matches, which is totally untrue, and they say it was way back when I was still Police FC manager. I consider the allegations false and very defaming and dangerous for the sake of the game.

“I believe I will appeal against the outrageous pronouncement and I will wait for the response, and I believe it will be quashed because they do not have any evidence, they consulted me and I gave my story, I believe whoever made this has a personal interest in it may be against Tooro”.

David Isabirye, a sports journalist also told URN that he will appeal the decision because he was ill-informed about what Kaweesa was planning to.

“I am willing to make an appeal about the decision by the Ethics Committee because am innocent in this case because football is my job and it is what makes me earn a living”.

Our attempts to get a comment from the local soccer governing body about the fate of the player (Jackson Kigozi) whom Kaweesa is accused of dealing with, were not fertile after officials did not pick up our phone calls.

This however not the first case of match-fixing that has been reported in Uganda, in April 2021, former Uganda Premier League side, Kyetume FC indefinitely suspended three players over allegations of match-fixing.

The three players who were suspended indefinitely include goalkeeper Joel Mutakubwa and defender Julius Ntambi and team captain Mustafa Mujjuzi. The players were suspended after the team lost to Kitara FC.

Also, in December last year, former Nyamityoboora FC Patron Ali Sekatawa, resigned amidst accusations of match-fixing and sports betting. In his resignation letter, Sekatawa says that match-fixing and sports betting have marred football in Uganda including top leagues.

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URN

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