(By Tobias Phiri and Oliver Chisenga)
THE Football Association of Zambia says it is happy with the reduction in the sentence on Kalusha Bwalya and has welcomed him back to the sport.
And Bwalya says he is happy and relieved to be back in the game.
Meanwhile, FAZ general secretary Adrian Kashala has warned Nkana and Zesco fans against misbehaving ahead of Sundays CAF encounter between the two Copperbelt footballing giants.
Bwalya was last year fined and banned for two years from all football related activities for corrupt practices but appealed.
His sentence was on January 28 reduced to the period he had already served.
“You all must by now be aware that the former president Mr Kalusha Bwalya had his sanctions reduced. Communication that was received by FAZ as of yesterday (Monday), Mr Kalusha Bwalya’s ban was reduced from two years to the period that he has already served. … the two years comes to an end after the appeals committee that sat to adjudicate over the matter resolved to reduce Mr Kalusha Bwalya’s ban to that period. In addition, he has also been asked to pay a fine of SWF 10,000 within a period of 30 days and that he shall bear his own legal costs,” Kashala was speaking at a press briefing held at FAZ headquarters.
“That news is overwhelming and it has made the association very happy that sanctions on Mr Kalusha Bwalya have been reduced. That is something that makes all of us happy and we should also appreciate that Mr Kalusha Bwalya of late has been cooperative and compliant in as far as serving his ban is concerned. That is how it should be. We need to demonstrate such kind of leadership, he is an icon and this reduction in his suspension is something that leaves all of us smiling. We welcome him back to football activities.”
He added that the reduction in the sentence does not mean an acquittal as most had reported.
“To elaborate on the sanctions, this does not mean that he has been cleared off completely; this is a sanction that has been partially shaded off. If you have your sentence reduced does not mean that you have been acquitted, there are two options in every appeal, either you have the sentence completely quashed unconditionally or upheld or indeed partially reduced and the third one did apply in the case of Mr Kalusha Bwalya,” Kashala explained.
And Bwalya, who was last August banned for two years from all football-related activities at both national and international level by FIFA, said he was thankful to God and all those that believed and stood with him from the time his prohibition was effected.
“Thank God first. And thank [you] everyone who believed and stood with me. So happy and relieved to be back in the game. Thank you to all the people who supported me throughout. God is good,” said Bwalya.
According to a press statement issued by FIFA, the Appeals Committee decided to reduce the duration of the ban from taking part in any football-related activity imposed on Kalusha to the period already served at the time of the notification of the present decision.
“FIFA Appeal Committee has partially upheld the appeal lodged by Mr Kalusha Bwalya, the former president of the Football Association of Zambia and member of the executive committee of the Confederation of African Football, and reduced the sanction previously imposed by the adjudicatory chamber of the Ethics Committee in its decision dated 12 April 2018,” read part of the letter.
“After analysing and taking into consideration all the circumstances of the case, the FIFA Appeal Committee decided to reduce the duration of the ban from taking part in any football-related activity imposed on Mr Bwalya to the period already served at the time of the notification of the present decision. As a consequence, the ban imposed on Mr Bwalya ended upon notification of the decision of the FIFA Appeal Committee. Furthermore, a fine of CHF 10,000 has been imposed on Mr Bwalya. The decision of the FIFA Appeal Committee was notified to Mr Bwalya today [Monday], and came into force immediately.”
Last year, the FIFA adjudicatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee banned Kalusha, then a member of the executive committee of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), for two years after concluding its investigations.
“The investigation against Mr Bwalya was opened on 28 February 2017, and focused principally on benefits that Mr Bwalya had received from Mr Bin Hammam,” a statement from FIFA read.
The adjudicatory chamber found Bwalya guilty of having violated art. 16 (Confidentiality) and art. 20 (Offering and accepting gifts and other benefits) of the FIFA Code of Ethics.
Meanwhile, Kashala warned Nkana and Zesco fans against misconduct when the two teams take each other in the CAF Confederation Cup this weekend.
“We will be having a CAF encounter between Nkana and Zesco in Ndola. We need to protect the name of the game. We appeal to the two teams to ensure that their supporters are well behaved during that game. As an association, we will not take kindly to any misconduct that will be recorded when the two teams play on Sunday,” Kashala said.
“We received a few reports in the just ended Charity Shield that fans from the two teams were throwing objects on the pitch. That being a charity shield, we will not take stern measures against them but we warn them that should that repeat itself, it is within our powers as an association to sanction such clubs and they must know that CAF is very strict in as far as that kind of behaviour is concerned.”
Kashala also warned lower league clubs to get their players registered with FAZ soon to avoid having their points given to their opponents.
“This week we should be seeing our lower league getting back into action and we want to inform them that they will not be allowed to use any other form of identity apart from the FAZ generated cards. Any club that will not have those cards ready will have their points forfeited as it were and we are not going to compromise because this has brought us a lot of issues,” said Kashala./LM