But while Ochieng has not denied match fixing allegations at Zoo, the club owner, however insist that they did all that was required of them to try and prevent the vice.
“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.
“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 days following the recent suspension of all sports activities in the country.
“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 expulsed 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.
Ochieng, however, feels that the federation was too quick to pull the plug by relegating the club to Division One, further 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.
With some of the players mentioned having turned out for Zoo over two seasons ago, it is possible that FIFA could have pegged their investigations to matches dating as far back as 2018.
In February 2020, FIFA Disciplinary Committee handed three former Kakamega Homeboyz players a four year ban over the same allegation.
The four include Moses Chikati Festus Okiring, who left Homeboyz for Ulinzi Stars, and Festo Omukoto alongside Ugandan international and ex Kakamega Homeboyz player George Mandela, who was handed a life ban from all football-related activities.
Zoo FC on Tuesday, May 4 issued a statement following FIFA’s decision to relegate the team to Division One League over alleged match-manipulation.
” We were earlier this year charged with manipulation of football matches and competitions contrary to art. 18 of the FIFA Disciplinary Code on the basis of a report compiled by the FIFA Integrity. The events purportedly leading to the charge involve two of the then Kenyan Premier League matches, now known as the Football Kenya Federation Premier League. The first match was played on 27 January 2019 in Machakos, Kenya between Sofapaka Football Club and Zoo Football Club. The second match was played on 1 March 2020 between Wazito Football Club and Zoo Football Club.
Thereafter, the FIFA Integrity Department opened a preliminary investigation into the football affairs of the Club. In the course of conducting its said investigations, the FIFA Integrity Department interrogated a number of our current and former players and officials.
It is fundamentally worth noting that at the conclusion of its Report the department stated:
“…FIFA integrity believes that there is not enough evidence to conclusively identify a single specific individual to be held as the sole responsible of the manipulation of the matches under scrutiny, based on the available evidence (namely the performance analysis and intelligence information).”
Report was inadequate
“In essence, it is our belief that the Report was inadequate and its findings doubtful. We in fact called upon the FIFA Disciplinary Committee to review the facts and the evidence over and above the said Report.
“This morning we were, however, surprised to receive a communique from FIFA that unfortunately held us responsible for match manipulation pursuant to art. 8 FDC as read with art. 18 pars 1 and 2 FIFA Disciplinary Code and, eventually, the imposition of sanctions that basically relegated us to the Division One League in the 2021/2021 Season. We will in the next ten (10) days write to them to provide further particulars of their decision which we believe is based on the misguided legal concept of “strict liability”
Allow us to continue participating
“We have since prepared our Appeal to the FIFA Appeals Committee under art. 56 FIFA Disciplinary Code which we shall soon file and are confident our appeal shall be successful. We shall also seek a stay of execution of the said decision that will allow us to continue participating in the league. We assure you that we are prepared to exhaust all legal avenues to ensure this unfair decision is reversed including lodging any further or other appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sports.
“We thank you for your continued support and ask you to remain calm as we explore the a fore stated,” read the statement.