13 banned as Ugandan football hit by match-fixing scandal


Uganda’s football community has been rocked by revelations of a major match-fixing scandal, leading to the provisional banning of 13 individuals by the Federation of Uganda Football Associations (Fufa).

The crackdown, executed with the assistance of FIFA, has brought to light a South African-based syndicate targeting Ugandan football, particularly the second divisions of both men’s and women’s leagues.

On June 13, Fufa announced the bans, which included 10 referees, a player, and two administrators. The syndicate had allegedly manipulated seven matches between October and December of the previous year.

Charles Twine, a member of Fufa’s investigatory chamber, detailed the extensive investigation and the incontrovertible evidence gathered against those involved.

“We received a lot of information from intelligence, collaborators, and different platforms that there was a vice of match-fixing in Uganda,” Twine stated on Tuesday.

Highlighting the severity of the issue, he described match-fixing as “so damaging” and likened the fixing ring to a criminal syndicate, citing its connections to corruption, money laundering, and organized crime.

The practice of match-fixing in Uganda became a criminal offense last year, a significant development as the nation prepares to co-host the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations alongside Kenya and Tanzania. This legal backdrop provided a firmer ground for Fufa’s actions against those implicated.

Twine elaborated on the methodology of the syndicate, explaining how they focused on lower-tier matches due to the absence of television cameras, which made it easier to avoid detection.

 Fufa’s legal manager, Denis Lukambi, revealed that the breakthrough came with the help of FIFA and Sportradar, a sports data company. These collaborations allowed Fufa to detect irregular betting patterns, which were key indicators of match-fixing.

“We received an alert that someone has placed abnormal money on a particular game,” Lukambi said, emphasizing that betting played a crucial role in the syndicate’s operations.

“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.”

In a statement, Fufa identified the syndicate’s leader as Hilfiger Mutyaba, also known as “Chelsea”, an ex-convict previously charged with financial crimes in the Virgin Islands.

 Mutyaba, alongside local criminal elements, was instrumental in recruiting referees, club officials, and players. One such recruit was referee Kaddu Ali, who facilitated the fixing by approaching various stakeholders on behalf of the syndicate.

“We broke into the syndicate penetrating our game, and some of these guys were from South Africa,” Twine said.

He described how Mutyaba invested substantial sums as bait to recruit Ugandans, who then worked as agents to further corrupt the sport. “Referees, club officials, and, unfortunately, even our players have been compromised and matches have been fixed.”

The investigation, which began in December, revealed that approximately 80% of those involved confessed, providing information that implicated others who continued to deny wrongdoing.

 While some players might receive reduced bans for being manipulated by the syndicate, others who actively placed bets on fixed games face harsher penalties.

The provisional bans handed out by Fufa give the accused 90 days to present their defense. The federation’s ethics committee will then decide the length of their suspensions if they are found guilty.

Those found guilty have the right to appeal within Fufa and, if necessary, take their case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland. Given the recent criminalization of match-fixing, individuals could also face criminal charges.

This scandal is not unprecedented in Ugandan football. The country has a history of match-fixing incidents, including a notorious case in 2003 when SC Villa, the current champions, won a match 22-1 to secure the title.

Another infamous incident occurred during the 2015 cup final between Villa and KCC FC, which was abandoned following a controversial penalty decision.

As Uganda looks forward to co-hosting the Africa Cup of Nations in 2027, this crackdown signifies a strong stance against corruption in football.

Twine called for collective action against match-fixing, urging all stakeholders, from media to fans, to join the fight. “We shall continue unwaveringly to ensure that this vice is completely eradicated,” he vowed.

This decisive move by Fufa, backed by FIFA, marks a significant step in safeguarding the integrity of Ugandan football, sending a clear message that corruption will not be tolerated in the sport.

Photo: BBC Africa

We are Africa’s number one online sports community created by true fans.

Share post:




More like this