Transparency International cautions Rwanda on corruption in sports sector

BEHIND BARS: Olivier Murindahabi, head of Rwanda's Football Federation (FERWAFA) has been arrested over corruption charges.

BEHIND BARS: Olivier Murindahabi, head of Rwanda’s Football Federation (FERWAFA) has been arrested over corruption charges.

The Head of the anti-graft body Transparency International Elena A. Ponfilava has called on Rwandans to avoid corruption in the sporting sector in order to promote it both locally and globally.

Ponfilava made the remarks on Wednesday during her official visit to Rwanda, where she said that corruption is bound to destroy the sports culture if the sporting fraternity continues to operate illicit deals.

Ponfilava said “the sports administration doesn’t operate in openness, sometimes we don’t even know how ministers and federation officials are appointed and elected and this breeds corruption tendencies.”

Her comments also come at a time when the Secretary General of Rwanda football federation (Ferwafa), Olivier Murindahabi is under arrest on allegations of corruption. The official is facing corruption charges over the tendering process of the proposed construction of a four star Ferwafa hotel in the capital Kigali.

The head of Transparency International-Rwanda Marie Immaculate Ingabire, also intimated that the sporting sector should be checked , adding that the agency has received numerous cases of corruption especially in Ferwafa and the planned Gahanga stadium project among others.

Ponfilava’s visit to Rwanda was part of her efforts to engage African countries at a time when Transparency International has also launched a new campaign initiative dubbed ‘Corruption in Sport Initiative.’

Through the initiative Transparency International aims to mobilize wider audiences in the fight against corruption through connecting the sports community to the wider movement against corruption.

The initiative includes partnerships with experts, supporters and sponsors through new research, analysis, dialogue and key recommendations. Through the initiative, Transparency International will also focus on Improving the governance of sports organizations, Strengthening the integrity of bidding, awarding and hosting of major sporting events and preventing and combating match-fixing.

A recent 2016 survey by anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International shows that majority of fans have lost confidence in the world football’s governing body FIFA.

The findings released concurrently with the Global Corruption Report ‘Sport’ shows that 69 per cent of the fans don’t trust FIFA and while global sporting events generate huge revenues at least $145 billion a year, the sport has become infested with corruption and drugs all to the benefit of executives who run FIFA and its federations worldwide and not athletes.

Cobus de Swardt, the Managing director of Transparency International expressed dissatisfaction over biased competition and hosting of events driven by corruption.

“As fans we have a love affair with football. When our teams win we are ecstatic, when they lose we are devastated. But when results, whether of games, or rights for hosting events, elections among others are driven not by fair competition, but by corruption, we feel betrayed,” said de Swardt.

In Kenya, reports indicate that doping, bribery and match-fixing are some of corruption vices that could potentially continue to kill the sporting talent in the East African nation if the government does not take action.

Recently Transparency International-Kenya chairman, Richard Leakey criticized government officials for turning a blind eye to sports management, something he said could ruin Kenya’s heritage.