I AM not guilty of any offence, says Kalusha Bwalya.
Yesterday, FIFA banned Kalusha from all football-related activities for two years for receiving “benefits” from disgraced Qatari official Mohammad Bin Hammam.
But the Zambian football icon said FIFA’s decision is not final and “I will fight tooth and nail for justice to clear my name.”
When contacted, Kalusha said: “I will come up with a statement”.
Later, he issued a statement via his Facebook page saying he would appeal the ban.
“I, the undersigned Kalusha Bwalya, Do hereby state that: I am surprised and saddened by today’s receipt of the notification from the FIFA Ethics Committee adjudication,” he stated on his Facebook page.
“I have instructed my legal team to immediately appeal this decision urgently and would like to state that I am NOT guilty of any offence, which allegedly took place. I have never done and will never do anything to bring the beautiful game into disrepute and stand by the facts provided by me to the committee. I, unfortunately, cannot provide any further details as my legal team has advised that this would jeopardize my chances of obtaining leave to appeal. FIFA’s decision is not final and I will fight tooth and nail for justice to clear my name. I thank all my fans for their on-going support.”
The former FAZ president and 1988 African Footballer of the Year has also been fined 100,000 Swiss Franc (approximately K1,000,000).
According to a FIFA statement yesterday, the adjudicatory chamber of the independent Ethics Committee banned Bwalya, a member of the executive committee of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), for two years from all football-related activities (administrative, sports or any other) at both national and international level.
“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,” reads the statement.
“The adjudicatory chamber found Mr Bwalya guilty of having violated art. 16 (Confidentiality) and art. 20 (Offering and accepting gifts and other benefits) of the FIFA Code of Ethics. A fine in the amount of CHF 100,000 was also imposed on Mr Bwalya. The decision was notified to Mr Bwalya today, and the ban comes into force immediately.”
Bin Hammam was banned from football for life by FIFA in 2011 for his part in a cash-for-votes scandal. He denies any wrongdoing.
According to an excerpt of a FIFA report detailing Bin Hammam’s transactions, Bwalya was among several CAF officials that received payments from the Qatari. Bwalya allegedly received two payments in 2009 and 2011 totalling US$80,000.
The December 2012 Bin Hammam Report addressed the payments in depth and concluded that they were improper.
“A news report published in June 2014 alleged that Mr Bin Hammam made a number of “secret payments that helped Qatar to win the World Cup bid. Among other improper behaviour, the report alleged, Mr Bin Hammam repeatedly conferred payments and other benefits to association presidents and other officials from CAF,” reads the report.
“Evidence discussed in the December 2012 Bin Hammam Report demonstrates that Mr. Bin Hammam continued to make improper payments to CAF officials after the December 2, 2010 World Cup vote, through the months leading up to the June 2011 election. For example, the December 2012 Bin Hammam report described Mr Bin Hammam’s payments to a Gambian football official, Seedy Kinteh, of $10,000 in February 2010, $50,000 in March 2011, and $9,396 in April 2011; his payments to a Zambian football official, Kalusha Bwalya, of $50,000 in December 2009 and $30,000 in April 2011; and his payments to the Niger association or its President, Col Djibrilla Hima Hamidou, of $50,000 in April 2010 and $10,000 in May 2011.”
In June 2014, Bwalya, who admitted receiving US$50,000 from Bin Hammam, explained that the money was a debt meant to run FAZ affairs.
“Yali ni nkongole (it was a debt), which I offered to pay…. When I said I had the money to repay they said ‘no’, and that’s where we are. Bin Hammam is a personal friend of mine, I knew him for a long time. Lulya twakwete ama (when we had) problems ku (at) FAZ, he said to me that ‘if you need any help, let me know’, so he said he was going to help me. There were other discussions before what was published, so later I decided to brief him that natukwatako ama (we had) problems because yalifula (they were a lot) as we were fighting akamfulumfulu (confusion). That is why I wrote him that e-mail so that he can help us with that amount. He, however, did not send us that amount, he sent less. Yali ni nkongole (it was a debt) which I offered to pay back, you understand, it’s not that amount indicated,” Bwalya said.
“The money was put to good use because that’s the time twalepishanya nabena Lupiya (when we were pursuing each other with Lupiya). I offered to pay them as indicated but they said ‘no, just wait, we will tell you’. In principle, we should have paid it back because yali ni nkongole.”