South African match-fixing ring infiltrates Uganda, 13 suspended

The Uganda Football Federation (FUFA) has taken decisive action against a match-fixing syndicate, provisional suspending 13 individuals. These include 10 referees, a player, and two administrators. This follows the uncovering of a South African-based match-fixing syndicate, thanks to collaboration with FIFA.

The investigation, which began in December, focused on suspicious activities in seven matches across the second divisions. These games include men’s and women’s fixtures between October and December of the previous year, BBC said.

FUFA’s investigatory chamber, led by Charles Twine, uncovered “incontrovertible” evidence linking the banned individuals to the match-fixing syndicate. Twine described the problem as “so damaging,” highlighting its association with corruption, money laundering, and organized crime.

“We received a lot of information from intelligence, collaborators and different platforms that there was a vice of match-fixing in Uganda. I can comfortably call it a criminal syndicate because match-fixing is associated with so many crimes – crimes of corruption, money laundering and, sometimes, organized crime,”

– say Charles Twine, a member of FUFA’s investigatory chamber, said on Tuesday.

Hilfiger Mutyaba, an ex-convict with a history of financial crimes, led the syndicate. He allegedly infiltrated Ugandan soccer by recruiting referees, players, and club officials to manipulate match outcomes. Mutyaba and his associates placed substantial bets on these fixed matches, often in local and international betting markets.

How did FIFA help in revealing issue?

Systems put in place with FIFA allowed the association to identify the manipulation, according to Denis Lukambi, FUFA’s legal manager.

“We received an alert that someone has placed abnormal money on a particular game. 99% of this process is about betting – with match-fixers or mafias placing money either in local [Ugandan] betting houses or, more specially, out of the country” – he said.

FUFA’s response includes both immediate suspensions and plans for further disciplinary actions. The 13 individuals have been given 90 days to present their defense before FUFA’s ethics committee. It will then determine the length of their suspensions. They can appeal FUFA’s decision and take their case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland.

The legal framework in Uganda now criminalizes match-fixing, following the enactment of the National Sports Act in August 2023. This legislation allows for criminal charges against those found guilty, adding a layer of deterrence against future offenses.

Broader implications and impact on Ugandan soccer

FUFA has emphasized the need for collective action against match-fixing, calling on media, sports fans, administrators, and players to contribute to eradicating the vice. The federation’s legal manager, Denis Lukambi, credited the detection of the match-fixing activities to systems established with the help of FIFA and sports data company Sportradar. These systems flagged unusual betting patterns, which proved crucial in uncovering the scandal.

The scandal has cast a shadow over Ugandan soccer, which has experienced similar issues in the past. Notable incidents include the 2003 scandal when SC Villa won 22-1 in a title-deciding game and the controversial 2015 cup final between Villa and KCC FC.

Despite these challenges, FUFA remains committed to cleaning up the sport, particularly as Uganda prepares to co-host the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations alongside Kenya and Tanzania.


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