HARARE: Henrietta Rushwaya, former chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe Football Association, has been reportedly charged over bribery and corruption allegations concerning the matchfixing scam which has brought the suspension of 80 players including members of the national team.

Rushwaya, who denies the accusations, was arrested last week and released on $500 bail on Monday by Harare Magistrate Anita Tshuma. Her trial could begin as soon as February 20. Bail conditions include a order not to interfere with ongoing investigations and to report to the police every fortnight.

The former ZIFA chef joined a long list of football players, journalists and officials who were implicated in the so-called ‘Asiagate’ scandal involving matches played between 2007 and 2009. The mass suspension of players was ordered by ZIFA last week after an inquiry by  a four-member committee led by ZIFA vice-president Ndumiso Gumede

The inquiry report alleged that huge bribes were paid to those involved to cover up the fact that Zimbabwe’s national team had deliberately lost matches to Syria and Thailand, hosted in Asia, as part of a betting scam run by agents of Raj Perumal. The Singaporean is in jail in Finland over similar betting charges.

National coach Norman Mapeza and assistant Joey Antipas were among those suspended last week. The list also includes Ovidy Karuru, who plays for Boulogne in France and South African-based players including Thomas Sweswe and Willard Katsande of Johannesburg’s Kaizer Chiefs.

The ZIFA report recommended that players should be dealt with leniently because not all of them knew the games were fixed but FIFA president  Sepp Blatter, on a visit to Harare last year, warned that players and officials found guilty would face life bans.

ZIFA officials hope that demonstration of action over matchfixing will help persuade FIFA to bail out the association over its $2m debts.