One of Tanzania’s top referees has been handed a life ban from football after Fifa found him guilty of taking bribes.
The case, opened in July 2018, was handled by Fifa’s Ethics Committee which ruled Oden Charles Mbaga had breached the Fifa Code of Ethics.
Without giving details of the bribery, Fifa said Mbaga breached the 2009 version of their code of ethics, though the investigation was opened only in July last year.
Mbaga has reportedly been linked to match-fixer Wilson Perumal of Singapore, who was involved in providing referees to corrupt international friendly games for betting scams.
Perumal’s schemes included fixing warm-up games for South Africa before they hosted the 2010 World Cup.
Mbaga had been on Fifa’s international list of referees approved to handle national team games.
In a subsequent email to Reuters, Fifa said that Mbaga “accepted bribes to manipulate several national and international matches between 2009 and 2012”.
It did not give any further details over which matches were involved.
Mbaga told Reuters in Dar es Salaam that he was questioned by Fifa in 2010, but had not heard anything from them since and knew nothing about match-fixing.
“This is a shocking news to me. I don’t know anything about me being banned to participate in football activities for life. I really don’t know this,” he said.
“I know Fifa was doing an investigation, and the last time they came to interview me about the issue was in 2010.
“I told them openly that I don’t know anything about match-fixing, and I have never heard anything from them since then.
“For now, I cannot say anything as I don’t have clear information.”
Fifa described Mbaga as a “referee affiliated to the Tanzanian Football Federation”.
The ban excludes him from “from all football-related activities (administrative, sports or any other) at both national and international level,” the statement added.
Match-fixing is often organised by betting syndicates who bribe players or officials to manipulate matches and make money by correctly gambling on the result.
Last month, former international referee Ibrahim Chaibou from Niger was banned for life, and fined 200,000 Swiss francs after being found guilty of taking bribes.