What you need to know:
- Zoo has been at the centre of match fixing allegations in the country with the club’s coach Herman Iswekha earlier admitting that some of his players might have been involved in the vice.
- In January 2020, Zoo released three key players whom coach Iswekha suspected were involved in the vice.
- A March 2020 investigation by Nation Sport also revealed how the club almost got engrossed in the murky world of match-fixing.
World football governing body Fifa Tuesday relegated Football Kenya Federation Premier League (FKF-PL) side Zoo FC to the Divison One League after it found the Kericho-based club culpable of match-fixing.
“The Fifa Disciplinary Committee finds the club Zoo FC responsible for activities related to manipulation of football matches and competitions….the club Zoo FC is hereby expulsed from the Kenyan Premier League season 2020/21 as the date of notification of the present decision,” said Fifa Disciplinary Committee in a letter signed by its chairman Alejandro Piera.
“The Fifa Disciplinary Committee hereby orders the relegation of the first team of the club Zoo FC to the FKF Division One for the next season.”
FKF has also written to the Kericho-based club informing them of Fifa’s decision to relegate them to the lower tier.
“We wish to inform you that we are receipt of correspondence from Fifa dated May 4, 2021…with regard to a Fifa disciplinary Committee ruling against your club on grounds of manipulation of football matches and competitions.
“In view of the aforementioned decision, FKF has expulsed your club from the 2020/2021 FKF Premier League season and relegated Zoo FC to the FKF Division One League for the season 2021/2022,” said FKF Secretary General Barry Otieno.
Zoo FC coach Herman Iswekha said the club will appeal the decison.
Our chairman has assured us that he will be appealing the decision.The allegations are not true and maybe this involves politics between us and the federation,” he said.
"I have been in charge of these players who majorly come from the neighbouring schools. I can attest that the team has never engaged in any match fixing."
A March 2020 investigation by Nation Sport also revealed how the club almost got engrossed in the murky world of match-fixing.
In the expose, Mark Danyi, a former Hungarian footballer, wanted to acquire majority of the shares in the club. He tabled a Sh10 million initial offer, with former Mathare United and Kenya international George Owino acting as the middleman.
While Danyi's e-mail signature indicated that he was acting on behalf of TSMC Sports Consultancy, Nation Sport established that the company itself was non-existent.
Instead, it was a ploy by Danyi to sound professional and win the heart of Zoo chairman Ken Ochieng. The former Hungarian footballer had a history of match fixing.
In 2013, his move to Austria second-tier side SV Loipersbach was blocked by the Hungarian Football Federation (HFF) since had been suspended for match manipulation in Hungary.
Former Kenyan International George Owino, whom Danyi described as his agent in Kenya, was mid-last year banned for 10 years by the world football governing body for attempted match-fixing.
Reports indicated that Owino was involved in manipulating up to 14 matches while making promises of potential transfers abroad.
The relegation of Zoo comes more than two years after four players were implicated in match-fixing in the Kenyan Premier League during the 2019 season.
These included three Kenyan players, Moses Chikati, Festo Omukoto, and Festus Okiring who were banned from all football-related activities for four years. The other was Ugandan George Mandela, who was banned for life.
In January 2020, Ugandan Ronald Mugisha was arrested at a Kisumu hotel for allegedly trying to fix the FKF-PL match pitting Western Stima against KCB.
But the suspect walked scot-free a week later after Western Stima chairman Laban Jobita withdrew the case.
In the current campaign that is expected to resume Wednesday next week, Zoo were ranked bottom of the 18-team league with eight points from 14 matches.