Four Ghanaian footballers are stranded in Zimbabwe almost five months after a dodgy deal orchestrated by Cameroonian player agent Olivier Urieley and one Tinashe Gomba fell through.
Urieley of African Management Football, worked with Gomba, a provincial Zimbabwe Football Association board member, to bring the quartet to a ‘ghost club’ in Chiredzi, a small-town south-east of Zimbabwe.
Urieley has accused his partner of misusing over US$1 000 (R18,500) he sent to him for rentals and upkeep of the players during their “trials”.
Urieley said he was misled into believing there was a topflight soccer team in Zimbabwe looking for players.
“I don’t have time to waste with Gomba because he is a crook. I don’t want any agent who cheats players. Those are professional players and they should report Gomba to the police. I gave him a lot of money for the upkeep of the players, but I am told they never got anything. I gave him over US$1 000,” he told Newsday.
The four footballers – Peter Tibila, 24, Francis Adjetey, 23, John Adu Poku, 22 and Nelson Adenyo, 23, –arrived in Zimbabwe from Accra on January 16, 2020 and are still stuck in the sugar-producing town of Chiredzi.
They are now unable to return home after President Emmerson Mnangagwa decreed a nationwide lockdown in March as a safety measure to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Adjetey has called on authorities to investigate what could be a case of human trafficking. “We are the third batch of Ghanaian players who went through this kind of ordeal and some have since returned home,” he said.
He added that when they arrived in Zimbabwe, they discovered there was no such team as Khaya Africa FC.
“After we touched down at the airport we met Gomba and Energy Zava and we were told that we should immediately pay US$250 (R4,600) each for logistics which included work permits. They managed to collect a total of US$800 (R14,800) from all of us,” he said. They were told the club was paying up to US$2 000 (R37,000) plus a winning bonus of US$500 including signing-on fee of US$10 000 (R185,000).
Zifa spokesperson, Xolisani Gwesela, said he had verified with their provincial office and was told the letter of invitation for the players was forged. The official whose signature is on the letter claims it was forged.
“As Zifa, we do not condone such criminal behaviour and Masvingo province will give us further details on the matter. We will await a report from Masvingo province to decide the way forward.”
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By Mthokozisi Dube